A is convinced that we love her sister more than we love her. Not in the "she got to choose the story! It's not fair" kind of way, but the "deep sadness, sulk quietly in your room and cry to yourself because you are not properly loved" kind of way. It feels really fucking heavy.
This sadness and deep sense of inequity drives her anxiety. She becomes obsessed with controlling all the interactions. Trying desperately to read every word we say and every move we make. She has an unspoken, elaborate and mystifying rating scale for hugs, snuggles and smiles.
She is pissed. Little E showed up and stole the love. If I were her I'd be pissed too. In fact, I have a little sister and I think I was pissed.
The shitty thing for A is that this turns into a self fulfilling prophecy. When she's nasty to her sister, I ask her to leave. She's not allowed to be mean and nasty. "Please chill the fuck out, or hang out in your room. When you're ready I'd love to have you come back." (I don't actually say fuck to her, but I imagine it in my head.) And, wha-bam! As far as she's concerned, I've validated her fear: I've sent her away because I don't love her as much as Little E.
I wish I knew how to make her see the truth. She's an amazing human! I love her so so big! She turned me into a mama and nothing will ever change that. She fills me up.
I love her sister and I love her. It's different love but it's the same intensity!
Things are better today than they were a while ago.* We talked frankly with Annabel about how much we love her and that when she suggested that we didn't love her as much as her sister, it was insulting. We asked that she trust us. We talked about jealousy and how it can eat you up. I shared the wisdom of Louis C.K. "The only time you look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don't look in your neighbor's bowl to see if you have as much as them."
At the end we let her know that we would no longer be entertaining the "you always take Emaline's side, you care more about her, you never listen to me," type of argument. We would very literally be responding to it with the silent treatment. It's such nonsense that it no longer merits another conversation.
We love her. As much as we love her sister.
She gets the best we have to offer. So does her sister. All the time.
*Addendum: Today it's worse again and she's freaking out because nothing is fair. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
I'm Molly. I'm all in for parenting. I'm all in for good food. All in for big and small outdoor adventures. And really only partly in for homemaking. I want a Martha Stewart home and meal, but the truth is, we mamas just can't do it all. Not really. This shit is tricky!
This is a collection of musings and missives about parenting like you mean it. I mean really mean it. About how you can pull off a really mostly decent meal, keep your house kinda clean, do some of your laundry, and also even remember to usually feed your pets. But mostly about how being a mama is hard and we can totally rock it, but maybe that dream of perfection has got to give a little.