When He Needs Me, I Won’t Be There!
gymWhen Dylan was two, and I was pregnant with Shane, we took a Fun Fit class. This gymnasium-based class involved a lot of running and jumping, and was perfect for my active toddler. Being rather fat, I didn’t do a lot of jumping – but wanted to make sure Dylan’s year was perfect.
I called it Dylan’s “last year,” because it was the last year I would spend with only Dylan. Soon, I thought, I would have another baby – and my attention would be divided. This concerned me – to say the least – and I was constantly aware of the fact that I would soon “abandon” Dylan.
One of the moms at Fun Fit had two children – one who was jumping around wildly with the other kids, and one who was brand new and mostly asleep in the covered stroller by the door. But one day, right in the middle of some serious toddler jumping, that covered baby woke up.
I watched the mom race toward the baby, cooing and soothing as best she could amidst the squeals and thumps of the class. Then I turned to look at her two-year-old son, in the midst of the chaos, still jumping and laughing.
Suddenly, while everyone else was still going strong, that little boy stopped. His eyes widened and he his face got very grim.
“Mom?” he called quietly – then louder. “Mom? Mom! MOM! MOMMY!” He had no idea where she’d gone, and was starting to shriek.
I glanced at the mom, soothing the baby 50 feet away. I glanced back at the child, still utterly panic-stricken.
And I started to cry.
I won’t be there when Dylan calls, I thought. When he needs me, I won’t be there!
I thought of that little boy often, of the mom soothing the infant while he panicked. Mere moments later, of course, everything was fine. But I was not fine. I remained hyper-vigilant that I would never do that to my first-born, who needed me as much as my newborn would – and did.
Then Shane came along and I had to tell Dylan to stop yanking the baby’s arm, stop sitting on the baby’s head – stuff like that. I had to quiet Dylan so that Shane could sleep – although it rarely worked, so Shane learned to sleep amidst chaos. And I showed Dylan how to help me teach Shane, as he grew.
“This is your sippy cup, Shane,” little Dylan would say. “And this is how you drink!” And Dylan would shove that sippy cup right into Shane’s shocked face.
And of course, there were moments that I had to tend to the baby when Dylan also needed me.
But mostly, the baby tended to himself. The older Shane got, the less he needed me. He was dressing himself at two. He was showering by himself at four. And he was getting himself entirely ready for school – and bed – by the age of 10.
I never neglected Dylan. In fact, if anything, I neglected Shane.
Dylan still demands – and gets – more than his share of attention.
“Dylan gets more blogs than me,” Shane will say, counting – always counting. Then, in gleeful discovery, he’ll say, “Oh here’s one about me!”
I think of this when I sit down to write.
I think of how worried I was, how tearful, that I wouldn’t be there for Dylan. Now I worry that I haven’t been there enough for Shane.
I think about the two boys being best friends now.
And I think about how beautifully Shane has developed – probably because I allowed him to grow.