For the past few weeks it seems every sentence I speak to my son starts with “I’m sorry, Mommy can’t.” Mommy can’t lay down with you because I have to feed your sister. Mommy can’t play right now because your sister needs me. Mommy can’t read to you because you sister … you get the idea. My husband has uttered this phrase more times than I can count as well.
But, this weekend I decided to banish that phrase. Why? Because it devalues my son’s needs and makes him feel second best, which he is not. His behavior shift has told me what his words cannot, that he is feeling left out and is missing some attention and affection. Well, that and we are on the verge of the threenagers.
Yes, there are times AB needs me and I cannot be with him, but I have to find a better way to express this to my almost three year old son. A way that reminds him that he is important and loved. More importantly, in a way that reassures him that I am still his mommy and he is still my child.
Instead of telling him “I can’t,” I have started to ask if I can do whatever in a few minutes. Or I ask him if he wants to help Mommy. I’ve also started making sure I make and actually take the time to spend with him. Now, Daddy helps him get ready for bed while I feed his sister and get her ready for bed. Then, we switch and I go in and read to him and lay with him while he falls asleep. If he wants to play while I am feeding his sister, I suggest activities that allow me to multitask – Play-Doh or coloring at the table so I can still nurse AB while J and I play.
It’s not perfect and neither am I, but we are still learning how to be a family of four and he is still learning how to share his mommy and daddy. We’ll never get it right 100% of the time, but I am working to be more aware of the times we get it wrong so we can adjust. Up next? Learning how to put my phone down.