Tuesday was a bit of a rough day. Quinn was being pretty high-demand, which meant having to tell Donovan "no" over and over... "Sorry, I can't play cars with you right now..." "Sorry, I can't read you a book..." "Sorry, sweetie, I can't get you a snack right now, give me a few minutes..." We had two synchronized meltdowns, with both kids in tears at the same time and me unsure of what to even do. Then it was nap time, and D asked me to read him The Lorax (which is, you know, kind of a long story). I suggested reading only part of it, because Quinn was already starting to fuss. But D got upset (understandably) and insisted on reading the whole story, and I just couldn't tell him no yet again.
So I laid Quinn down in his bed (there was no way I would've been able to hold him and read the book at the same time), shut the door, and listened to him cry as I quickly read through The Lorax with Donovan. By the time I got back to Quinn, he'd finally settled down and even, just then, fallen asleep. And I, of course, felt awful.
Parenting two kids, I'm finding out, is a constant balancing act. It feels like someone is always getting their needs or wants ignored, pushed aside, waiting for "later." And right now at least, almost 99% of the time that "someone" is Donovan. Why? Because he's older. He can understand the situation. He can understand that when I ask him to wait 5 minutes for me to get him a snack, that I will (eventually, probably) get to him. Quinn doesn't even yet understand that I continue to exist while not in his line of sight. And, Donovan is patient. He has been incredibly patient, able to wait his turn and occupy himself with his toys (and, when needed, a DVD) while I take care of his more demanding, zero-patience baby brother. That he has been so patient and understanding is wonderful, and also a curse at it means he does get ignored so much more of the time. If he were more demanding himself, I'd probably split my time more evenly ("the squeaky wheel" and all that jazz). I worry that all this wears on D, that one of these days he'll snap or feel resentful of his brother who takes up so much of Mommy's time.
Over the past year or 2 I've been more drawn to the "Attachment Parenting" style of parenting, which, at its core, is about responding to your child's needs as much as possible. That was easy enough to do with one child. I don't know how to do it with two. I figure it'll get easier when they're both a little older, when they're both a bit more independent, when Zach and I can take the kids out individually on "dates"for more one-on-one time, etc. But then again... will it? I hear parents of 2 (or more) older kids and they seem to still have a lot of the same struggles, in slightly different but perhaps even more complicated ways-- multiple children who each have very different desires that each need to happen at the same time. I guess at least once Donovan starts preschool there will be that much less time that I have them both to myself, which will help matters, too.
I think I hear Quinn, guess nap time's over....