The other night, I was feeding Mr. Ezra. This is not new, I do this multiple times a night. He had just drifted off when Mr. Oliver decided to wake up. This is new. He doesn't usually do that. He used to, a lot, even just a couple of months ago, but lately, since the stomach flu hit, he's been sleeping through just fine.
I hauled my tushie out of bed, a bit irritated but at least grateful that Ezra was back to sleep. Oliver was really hysterically crying for "Mooooommmyyy!!!" So, I went. Sigh.
I picked him up and kissed him, rocking him a moment, and laid him back down.
Um, no. Not good enough. I tried to leave, and his hysteria started up anew.
I considered waiting for a bit, but I didn't want Henry awake at 2:30 and really, he was, for reasons unknown, very upset.
I scooped him back up and sat on Spencer's empty bed. I rocked and rocked and rocked. He snuggled in and clung on like a baby monkey. (Oliver has ALWAYS reminded me of a monkey!) I closed my eyes and just kept rocking. For thirty minutes I rocked.
And as I rocked, I thought. When Spencer was born, I automatically considered Henry a "big boy." When Oliver was born I automatically considered Spencer a "big boy." Sadly, this effected my reactions to their behaviors. "You're a big boy! Stop acting like a baby!" I'd think.
In my brain, their behavior was ridiculously immature! "GROW UP KID, YOU'RE A BIG BROTHER!" I'd think.
And now, four children in, I have learned a lesson more valuable than gold:
Having a new baby does not negate the "baby-ness" of your next oldest. Bringing home a new baby does not automatically mature your other children. They are still who they were the day before.
Seriously. Not eloquent, but true nonetheless. Every one of my kids was 20 months old when the newest addition came along.
I have learned that 20 months is still a BABY.
It has made all the difference in how I view my kids and their behavior. There are even moments when I think, "Spencer is just a baby! It's okay that he's crying like an irrational hormonal woman."
He is three. And sometimes he is a baby.
And I am so glad I finally figured this nugget of wisdom out. It has allowed our transition to a family of six be gentler than other times babies have come.
And so that night, I rocked and rocked and rocked.
Because he is still my baby.