This photo means so much to me.

Mom guilt is real & comes in disguise. Sometimes even unnoticed completely until that one moment you really sit down to uncover what’s been hurting. I haven’t shared everything going on lately and I won’t bother rewinding to try to get it all to align with what you know, but let’s start here.

Bonding has been difficult with Olivia lately. I can tell she’s begging for my attention specifically because the majority she’s had is everyone else’s. She respects that I have to feed Oliver with my breast, but has a difficult time respecting the intimacy. She yells my name until I answer and you best believe I answer at the first call, now. I couldn’t before because honestly I couldn’t even hear it over Oliver’s cries, my own mental fog, my physical exhaustion.

It’s been tough trying to balance how and when to split attention, trying to incorporate both kids into everything we do to encourage unity and bonding between them.

She’s been hitting, scratching and screaming at him a lot to wake him up purposefully. It’s pretty common for the oldest child to digress in someway. Even though I’m clear from the fog, I still can’t always respond to her immediately, there are times where I have to tend to Oliver first. Literally having to choose which one to help first. I can feel her feeling of loss and uncertainty. Yes, she’ll be totally fine. Oliver will be totally find. I know that this period does not define how their relationship will be in the future, but oh my gosh!

I tell myself it would be different if we weren’t living with so many people, so many people with their different styles of dealing with her or responding to her behavior. Responding in reactionary ways that are much different than my own parenting. I can tell that not only this adjustment, but so many changes and  differences during the adjustment are affecting her. Plus, we moved an entire state, even though she may not fully understand that… Her home, her kitchen, her outdoor environment is totally different. It’s not just where she sleeps, but the landscape of the homes we walk by. She doesn’t see the same children, the same trees or the same park we’d visit, just her and I. She doesn’t have her own little space where we’ve incorporated toddler accessible activities. Her whole routine was thrown out of whack. Kids thrive on routine, on certainty.

And fine, it’s not how I pictured this stage to be. I pictured that I’d be more in control, that we’d have our own home and our routines could continue, only now her & I would care for the baby together while dad was at work. Okay, so it didn’t work out that way and we are blessed to be in such an abundant, giving and loving household… So we weren’t able to get our own place right away and we made decisions that would be best for the future that feeling restraining in such a way now.

I’m having to let other’s “parent” her when I can’t. I’m watching her take so many steps backwards on the knowledge she’d gained because the spaces just aren’t prepared or accessible for her. I’m struggling because I’m seeing her independence being stripped from her with every “no”, “don’t do that”, “you can’t”, “this isn’t for you,” “let’s go to time-out.”

So THIS. This photo means so much to me.

First, that I’m her new swim teacher & not only do we get to spend that time together, but it’s another activity together that has to do with trust.

She still trusts me, thank God. My heart literally cried this. If you couldn’t feel the mom guilt in all of this, hear it now. I was able to overcome my slightly irrational fears involving water and drowning to be that teacher for her and in that I gained a new trust for myself as her mother.

Second, she sat down herself willingly & actually peed for the first time in the toilet in almost 3 months. A few weeks ago we went to our storage & she saw this toilet, took her pants on and off repeatedly sat up and down to go. She was reacquainting herself after whatever happened that made her stop her progression. We sat outside so long to not break her Sensitive Period that she kinda got sunburnt. I finally convinced her to bring it inside and she’s still sitting on it, 1 pee down, hopeful for more. It’s been almost 45 minutes and I’m here for it.