Calming fears of bonding with one child more than the other

  • Have you ever feared you were more bonded with one child than another?
Have you ever feared you were more bonded with one child than… (Judah Kelber )
May 25, 2012|By Sarah Kickler Kelber | The Baltimore Sun

Ever have one of those nagging thoughts about yourself as a parent that kind of ricochets around in your skull like a bouncy ball whenever you try to corner it and figure it out?

I’d been having this strange feeling that I wasn’t really willing to address until I saw this post from Gina Crosley-Corcora, aka The Feminist Breeder. In it, she wrote about whether she loved her baby girl more than her older boys, after her husband commented on their seemingly extra special connection:

Not only does Jolene allow me to slobber all over her, she welcomes it with the cheesiest grin you’ve ever seen. All I have to do is smile at her and she’s happy. I’m a different parent with her because she’s at a different stage. This is what she needs right now, and it’s easy to give it to her. It’s natural. And it was natural with the boys when they were little bundles of joy.

But aging has gotten to them, and it’s gotten to me, and our dynamic is different now. I do miss what we had before, but I learned that it couldn’t stay that way forever. Jolene will start pushing me away soon, and we’ll have our own quarrels and problems. Right now I’m the best thing in the world to her. But soon, she’ll start having opinions that are at odds with mine. She won’t want me to hold her down on the playground and kiss her all over. She’ll make it her job to put distance between us. And I’m okay with that. Love changes and grows.

Ah, yes. This. Thank you, Gina.

Lately, I’ve felt so intensely connected to and joyful around my little guy, and sometimes so challenged by my older guy that I was starting to have this underlying fear that I was more intensely bonded to my baby. I was his only in-person parent for the first 9 weeks of his life, after all, and his existence raised the stakes even further on my fears during my husband’s deployment. So many emotions to lay on the shoulders of such a tiny human.

This post brought me clarity -- and relief. It is so easy to be joyful around my baby because he is a baby. His needs are relatively simple, his opinions few, his laughs easy to draw out. My preschooler is learning his way in the world, finding boundaries, pushing them, testing out ways of expressing himself. He needs more than snuggles, sustenance and a place to sleep -- of course he does. And meeting these needs is harder -- of course it is. But my love for him is undiminished -- and undiminishable.

The love stays the same through the stages of both of their lives, I realize now, but how that love is expressed grows and changes. Whew.

So thank you again, Gina, for helping me capture that nagging, errant thought and freeing it from the confines of my brain. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a couple of kids to hug.

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