Our toddler has adapted far too well to the new baby for my liking

Would it kill her to be a bit jealous when she sees me with a younger model?

I gave her the job of kissing the baby better every time she cried – a role she undertook very seriously

I gave her the job of kissing the baby better every time she cried – a role she undertook very seriously

 
This is part of a series by Aisling Marron

When people say I must be busy with a toddler and a baby I think about how my husband gets the toddler up in the morning, plays with her in the evening and puts her to bed at night. I think about how she’s in creche for three meals, two snacks and a full day’s entertainment and I wonder: when was the last time I saw her?

We have endless photos, and videos that I watch on repeat. Whenever I am with her I’m usually watching her through the lens of my phone. Her highlight reel is shared daily with family through WhatsApp. And then for the diehard fans, there is a separate app – a sort of Toddler Uncut – for additional unseen footage and behind-the-scenes interviews.

She has adapted far too well to the new baby for my liking. When I say adapted well, I mean she largely ignores her but whenever she does pay her any attention she is curious and sweet. If the baby cries, she says “Oh no!” and looks concernedly to me. So I gave her the job of kissing the baby better every time she cried – a role she undertook very seriously.

I gave her the job of kissing the baby better every time she cried – a role she undertook very seriously

If she is paying her any attention, she’s usually trying to feed her. So instead of “Gentle, GENTLE!” the refrains around here are “No, don’t feed her that juice bottle”, “No she doesn’t want a spoon of potatoes”, “Don’t put that in her mouth”, “She only drinks milk, remember?”

And why wouldn’t an almost two-year-old be anything but delighted – oblivious to the new bundle in the corner? Her life has continued mostly unaffected: same day-to-day routine in creche and at home, but now extra time with her dad.

She’s a daddy’s girl now. All it took was just four short weeks of their daily playground dates and she’s lost to me forever

The only thing that has changed is that she has less time with me. And that’s the rub. Would it kill her to be a bit jealous when she sees me with a younger model? Her nonchalance is too much. It’s like her first day in creche, when we handed her over to three masked strangers without so much as a backward glance from her. Even though she and I had spent 11 months never apart and for the last 4 of those, she had seen nobody else but us. Maybe she was sick of the sight of us come to think of it and was simply taking her opportunity to run into the arms of the first other people she saw.

The only time she has ever shown any distress being dropped off to creche is when there is a queue to get in and she can’t get in there as quickly as she’d like. One day at pick-up, I was told she had been crying and I was immediately interested but they explained that there had been a simple misunderstanding: they were trying to take off her cardigan but she thought they were trying to take her biscuit. And look, it’s understandable. That would be distressing.

Until the new baby arrived, I had been the favourite parent. I denied it whenever my husband said that I was definitely her favourite but I was faking it to spare his feelings. I was the favourite. I knew it, he knew it, she knew it. And I loved it. But she’s a daddy’s girl now. All it took was just four short weeks of their daily playground dates and she’s lost to me forever.

I had been enjoying, during the pregnancy, that she had no memory of me before being pregnant so when she’d see a wine glass or beer bottle she’d say “Dada!”. But now she doesn’t seem to remember a time before her father minding her all the time and it cuts me deep.

As my husband goes back to work and I get to grips more and more with the small baby, I’m hoping we can re-establish our bond.

It’s lovely to see her develop and hear her adding to her vocabulary daily. We were in M&S recently and she said “dear!” Though she was pointing to a stag on a shortbread biscuit tin and it was not, as I had first thought, a commentary on the prices.

My mother told me that once a child learns to speak, you need to teach them the sentence: “Daddy, I want my breakfast.” So wise. I will work on it. 

Pandemic Pregnancy
Part 1: This is all getting a bit Angela’s Ashes
Part 2: We got bad news at the first baby scan
Part 3: What’s the oldest woman you’ve delivered?
Part 4: Not yet telling your colleagues about the baby
Part 5: It turns out, I do miss my husband
Part 6: Asking if the baby had magically appeared
Part 7: Apprehensive about having a second child 
Part 8: I’m living for my monthly maternity check-ups
Part 9: We decide we’ll take a little holiday
Part 10: Maternity leave during lockdown has advantages
Part 11: I bat away suggestions for coping with labour
Part 12: ‘Natural’ is great if the birth is going well
Part 13: My baby is big, so I’m going to be induced
Part 14: I was with epidural and it was glorious
Part 15: I just wanted to sleep for 10 hours
Part 16: Sometimes I feel trapped under the baby
Part 17: Time to head back into the real world
Part 18: Our toddler has adapted far too well
@aislingmarron

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