A mother’s greatest sadness is her child’s.
For three weeks now, I have been telling people that Elka is fine. Just fine. Because people always ask, How is Elka coping with it all?
And she has been fine. Remarkably adaptable. Gregor has been around a lot, so she has been thriving; showered in love, sunshine and attention. Bringing a baby home seemed better than a birthday party. Better than chocolate-coated strawberries on a stick. The whole family was around, and it was one great fat holiday.
Now, work resumes, and reality sets in.
Is it all fine? I am not so sure. Little Elka has been lying around a lot. She says she’s tired. Then there are the times she says, Stop breastfeeding Mum! or pushes Eve’s little hand away from my breast. There have been may times that I can’t come to her when she needs me. Times when I have to put Eve’s needs before Elka’s.
We had a few moments when Elka’s affections became too rough, too much love, and I had to pull away, or ask Elka to be gentle. My mother’s protective instinct was torn between protecting one baby’s life, and one baby’s heart. I don’t want Elka to feel like she can’t show Eve affection. But of course a baby’s head is so soft; so vulnerable.
Elka expressed her disapproval by rolling around on the floor, her head buried. I’m sad about you. She would say.
Once she turned away from me, going to sleep. She pulled her arm away.
Often she clings to her daddy, I want my Daddy, she says.
I understand Elka feels sad. It’s such a huge transition. My focus now is on listening to her. Being there for her.
Psychologist Robin Grille talks about the importance of maintaining a connection with our toddlers. He says the key to a healthy connection is authenticity – being honest with your feelings, and allowing a toddler to be honest about their emotions.
This works for me. Elka certainly knows when I am frustrated, angry or sad. She also witnesses me work through it. Sometimes I need to apologise to her, and I feel like she hears me, and accepts my apology. Likewise, I am listening to her. I am seeing her feel sad. I am empathising with her pain. Of course, having a little sister rocks your world. It’s a huge transition. And I am all open ears. Open hearted.
With love and patience, I hope we will move through this with grace.
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