When my daughter was born in 2002, I was totally and utterly besotted. I couldn’t believe I could love someone as much as I loved her. To me, she was the meaning of love – and life.
When I seriously thought about having a second child, which was the inevitable thing to do, I didn’t really ponder how I would cope with two children, but instead, how I could possibly ‘share’ the love and time I had with my daughter – and how rejected I thought she might feel.
When I fell pregnant again in 2004, the feelings of guilt and anxiety grew over having to ‘share’ my love. I desperately wanted to feel comfortable knowing it would be just as magical with another baby, but deep down, I was sad at the thought that it would no longer be my daughter and I, sharing every single, special moment together. It would be my daughter, baby and I. I even shed tears thinking about her missing out on what we already had.
My family all lived too far away to visit regularly and being the ‘I.T. widow’ that I was (if you have a partner working in I.T. you will know exactly what I am referring to!), the days became exhaustingly long. My daughter and I would often wake together and go to sleep together. She was my best friend, my rock, my little girl. And I was about to bring a brand new person into our special relationship.
I knew I would dearly love my new baby, there was no question about it. But the undivided time I had shared with my daughter for the first two years of her life, it would have to be halved and shared, right?
I finally came across the most beautiful poem, which turned around my thoughts quick smart! I printed out the poem and stuck it to my fridge.
I want to share this beautiful poem with the many mums out there who are or may soon wonder the exact same thing I did – how will I be able to share my love? Because I have heard many mums ask this many a time, before I even thought about children – but I never understood it like I did then.
I walk along holding your 2-year-old hand, basking in the glow of our magical relationship. Suddenly I feel a kick from within, as if to remind me that our time alone is limited. And I wonder: how could I ever love another child as I love you?
Then he is born, and I watch you. I watch the pain you feel at having to share me as you’ve never shared me before.
I hear you telling me in your own way, “Please love only me”. And I hear myself telling you in mine, “I can’t”, knowing, in fact, that I never can again.
You cry. I cry with you. I almost see our new baby as an intruder on the precious relationship we once shared. A relationship we can never quite have again.
But then, barely noticing, I find myself attached to that new being, and feeling almost guilty. I’m afraid to let you see me enjoying him, as though I am betraying you.
But then I notice your resentment change, first to curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine affection.
More days pass, and we are settling into a new routine. The memory of days with just the two of us is fading fast.
But something else is replacing those wonderful times we shared, just we two. There are new times – only now, we are three. I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at each other, touch each other.
I watch how he adores you – as I have for so long. I see how excited you are by each of his new accomplishments. And I begin to realize that I haven’t taken something from you, I’ve given something to you. I notice that I am no longer afraid to share my love openly with both of you.
I find that my love for each of you is as different as you are, but equally strong. And my question is finally answered, to my amazement. Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you – only differently.
And although I realize that you may have to share my time, I now know you’ll never share my love. There’s enough of that for both of you – you each have your own supply.
I love you – both. And I thank you both for blessing my life.
I’ve come to realise that it’s nothing to be ashamed about feeling this way. It’s all just part of the vast parenting ‘unknown’ that we only learn from experience – and we all know that parenting is a skill learnt ‘on the job’. We know what it’s like to have one child, but we just haven’t experienced two yet. When your second child is born, you too will know how true the ending of the poem really is.
On a parting note, know that love doesn’t divide. It multiplies. You know that special feeling you got with your first? You get that all over again with your second and more – that’s a whole lot of love – just for you!
I’ve got to be the luckiest mummy alive.