I don’t write much about Darwin here anymore, except as it pertains to her sister. This blog isn’t intended to be Linnea’s counterpart to the story of Darwin over at Little Rainbow Bug, but to give my perspective on our family. Since I spend 99% of my time with Linnea, though, it makes sense that I write about her a lot. But I’ve been really enjoying and appreciating my time with Darwin lately, and watching my relationship with her change.
Since fall term, particularly since the mess with the nanny that didn’t work out, I’ve been spending more time with Darwin, both at the childcare swap and at home. It’s been really wonderful to have more access to her, to learn her a little better after 2 years of feeling like I mostly knew her through MamaRae, the default parent. I’ve had a chance to do more play, structured and unstructured activities, and even basic activities like getting dressed or eating. Things she used to refuse to do with me or at least protest loudly before finally acquiescing. Now, she’ll sometimes even request me over MamaRae. It’s not super common, but it gives me a thrill and I do my best to be available as long as the baby doesn’t need me right in that moment.
This week we didn’t have swap so it’s been me and my girls all week. It’s been really… enlightening. I knew it was going to be exhausting but I didn’t realize how quickly I would unravel with no baby-free breather. I tried to plan enough things to keep us busy, and a mix of at home and out and about. But timing can be difficult as a one car family, and managing to do something fun (library!) and then get groceries and run errands, all after dropping Rachel off at work, and then managing to get home in time for lunch and nap, well… it’s hard. And then the next day both girls were just really whiny. And then Wednesday was another run around like chickens with our heads cut off day. And then today I made the conscious decision to stay home and not introduce any structured activity unless it seemed really called for. And it worked. It wasn’t perfect- Darwin was really needy and wanted to be held and cuddled a lot which I love of course but meant Linnea was in a chair or on the floor with a toy much of the day, and frankly I think she was bored. But there were such lovely moments. We attempted taking a shower all together (not my best idea but not a total disaster) and nap, though a bit later than preferred, was an hour and fifteen minutes of cuddles (Linnea nursing or cuddled up to my front, Darwin paying with my hair and eventually the “big” spoon to my little one) and blissful rest.
It’s a hard thing to learn how to split my attention between two girls with different and sometimes contradictory needs. I told Rachel I kind of felt like I neglected Linnea today, that most of my attention was on Darwin. But I think, overall, it’s ok. Linnea gets so much of my attention that it probably just felt uneven when she suddenly had to share the spotlight. Darwin was amazingly patient and played quietly by herself multiple times today while I nursed Linnea or bounced her down for nap time. And Linnea was never left alone, she just didn’t have my direct attention as much as she is used to having it. And honestly, Linnea is getting old enough that I don’t have to be hovering over her 24/7, and it’s important to me to continue growing and developing my relationship with Darwin.
Patenting has always been a balancing act, and having two kids only makes it harder. But despite the exhaustion and nerves that frayed far more quickly than anticipated, I have really loved having this time to really focus on my daughters. More than once this term I’ve wished we had the financial means for me to be a stay at home mom. This week has reminded me why I probably shouldn’t do that, but it has also emphasized all the reasons that it is such a tantalizing concept.
Tomorrow morning I get another little break. Darwin will go back to grandma’s and Rachel will spend some one on one time with Linnea, while I go somewhere and write. Hopefully I’ll actually use the time for work, unlike yesterday! But even though I’ll be grateful for the much needed breather (and perhaps even more-needed work time), I’ll miss my girls while I’m away and I will be all the more excited to spend the afternoon with them when I return.