As my daughters are growing up, I find myself sad and often wishing it lasted longer. Can they just be 6 months old again so I can rock them to sleep one more time? Everyone tells you it goes by so fast, and they are 100 percent correct. The nights are long but the days are shorter and shorter and I feel like it’s all slipping by so quickly. When you are in the moment, you don’t realize how quickly it’s going by until it’s gone. To honor Mother’s Day, to remember some wonderful times and to share our personal experiences, I asked my mom, Linda, to go back and tell me what it was like watching my brother Adam and I grow up and share her perspective as I share mine with my children.
Erin: One of my big “mom guilt” feelings is not spending enough alone time with my oldest. I feel like there is always a special bond you have with your first child because they taught you how to be a mom. So many ups and downs, but you survived it together. What are some ways you created alone time with my older brother after I was born?
Linda: I would spend alone time with Adam when you took a nap. I really appreciated Sam, our neighbor who took care of you both when I worked. She would keep Adam at her house for an extra 15 minutes or so when I got home from work, that way I could nurse you and put you down for a nap. Then Adam would come home and we’d have alone time together.
Erin: The first time I realized I was a real mom, was when we brought Natalie home from the hospital. I remember thinking “wow, she is actually real, she is here and now I’m really holding her!” But being that she was our first we had no clue and that was hard. I remember her just crying nonstop and I had no idea that was normal. What was it like when you brought my brother home from the hospital? Were you scared or just excited?
Linda: I felt prepared. I was very excited to bring Adam home. I babysat for a lot of babies and I was around all of my cousins when they were babies. I took child development classes. I read a lot of articles and took Lamaze classes. Adam was wonderful in the hospital. The nurses would come and visit with us. They thought I had other children because we were so relaxed. We did have a month or so though when Adam was colicky and fussy.
Erin: When I was pregnant with my second, I remember you telling me that you loved my brother so much you didn’t know how you would love me as much, but once I was born your heart just grew. I now can totally relate. I remember crying saying goodbye to my first when I had to leave her to go to the hospital, knowing it would never be the same. My heart still kind of aches remembering that feeling. But now that they are older and just the best of friends and share this special sister bond, my heart is so full and I’m so grateful that we have them both together. When did you feel that way about having both of us? Did we instantly connect as brother and sister or did it take some time?
Linda: I really tried to prepare Adam to be a big brother. He adored you! You were four years apart so Adam understood you were younger and had different needs. As Adam got older, he hung around with your dad doing sports, fishing, and golf. That’s when you and I would go to doll shows or shopping. After that, you and Adam weren’t as close. I was always impressed by you no matter what you did. You always tried to keep up with Adam and usually surpassed him. You could swim, ride a bike, play soccer, everything.
Erin: My oldest daughter, Natalie, has always been my baby and it was not until she turned 3 and she was going to pre-school that I knew she was no longer a “baby”. I remember it hit me hard when I was going on a tour of a school. I just started to cry thinking of my baby growing up and going to school. When I found the right pre-school it made it less intense because I knew she would have fun there and that made it more exciting. How did you feel sending Adam to preschool? When did you know he was not your baby anymore?
Linda: It was hard to find preschools in Fairfield. It was hard to leave him but nice to spend time with you. You were born when he was in preschool. He loved taking care of you when he got home.
Erin: Experiencing my children grow up has been such a gift, I love seeing them change and grow. I will always miss them being a baby because I love snuggling them and they grow up so quickly. My favorite experience has been around 18 months old, when their personalities start to develop. What has been your favorite age that you have experienced?
Linda: I think you were the most fun to be with when you were in elementary school. I remember all of the “field trips “ we took during the summer. We went to SF and Old Town Sacramento. We went to the zoo and on ferries. We had so much fun. I loved when you came to my school and helped out while I taught.
Erin: Communicating and expressing emotions always has it challenges with toddlers. My second daughter, Kaylee, has some big emotions and we have had a hard time understanding and helping her express them. There have been a lot of tears. Now that she is almost 3, it’s changed so much because she can really express and say what she feels. Did you ever go through this with my brother or I? How did you help us express our feelings?
Linda: Sure it was hard for Adam to communicate. I went back to work when he was 9 months old so he had a babysitter. Fortunately, it was only 3 hours a day. I always thought we were close enough that I could understand what he was saying. Both of you communicated easily. Adam had Travis (a friend) when he was 21 months old. They got along well. That is also when I knew he wasn’t a baby because he actually played with someone besides me.
Erin: Now that my girls are 5 and almost 3, I enjoy their company so much. I am learning who they are and I find their different personalities so fascinating. I’m so excited to watch them grow, also terrified, but a little sad too because I don’t want to forget or loose these moments. Any advice you’d like to share of how being a grandma has changed your opinion when you were a mom? Seeing me as a mom, is there anything that I do differently that makes you proud of me?
Linda: Advice? Love your children. Be part of their lives. Accept that they will make their own choices that you may not agree with. Support them. You can’t be selfish if you’re a parent. I’ve been a teacher for over 40 years and I’ve experienced a LOT of children and their parents. You have to give and take. There are priorities for “battles”. It’s SO important that kids feel safe and loved. They need a sense of security.
As a grandma, it’s interesting to see how you have become a mother. You’re doing a great job. I have to realize I’m not responsible for your family. You make the decisions that are right for you and your family. I may not agree with everything, but I try to understand and respect your wishes.
As far as grandchildren- they are the light of my life. I adore them and look forward to spending time with them as they grow up. It’s different with them because I only see them for short periods of time and I’m not involved in their day to day lives.
Erin: I often think of how much I loved you as a child and just this overwhelming bond and strong connection I had with you. I have to remind myself of that bond, because I worry if I get too upset or loose myself in a moment that I don’t stop and say, “hey, I’m doing a good job.” I think as moms we worry so much and criticize what we do all the time. But the unconditional love is just something I can never take for granted. I’ll cherish their love forever. It’s what keeps me going.
Lastly I’d like to thank you for answering these questions and for being my mom. I know the daily struggles and every day I am learning the challenges of being a mom. It’s not easy. I appreciate everything you did and do for me. I know that you gave me so much that I only can say I hope I can give the same to my children, thank you and love you.