Thursday, July 24, 2008

Having two children

We are off to the UK tomorrow. I can’t believe it is one year since we were there to welcome Bella into the world. I had not even started this blog (this is my 101th post!). Just over a year ago there I was for a lazy month on my own with Jemima, Bella still on the inside and James still out here, wondering how I could ever love any child as much as my first child. I had pangs of guilt at what it might mean for Jemima to share me with a new sibling. The night she left to stay with my sister Alex, as I was going into labour, I wept at the thought of never having that life with just her again. I am writing this post for my friend J, who is pregnant with her second child. Because I just want to say “Don’t worry, nature takes care of it”.

These last few months, as Bella has begun to be more active, nearly walking, talking constantly and fluently - in what could be Russian, I am not quite sure - I have been deeply touched by Jemima’s response to her little sister. They have never been inseparable like some siblings. I mean they both seem to happily go off and do their thing. They are interested in each other of course, and play together for limited periods, but neither idolizes the other (not yet anyway). Actually I am almost relieved at this – I had visions of Bella constantly being hurt or left out as her big sister got bored of playing with her or ignored her advances. All of this may be yet to come I suppose, but at the moment it is quite beautiful to watch them together.

I have a stinking cold at the moment and it has been good for me. It has forced me to just sit still, watch the kids play, and feebly join in when required. I could watch them for hours. Bella is hilarious and keeps us constantly entertained with her games. She likes to go out of the front or back mosquito screen and hide for a minute before popping her head round and screaming with delight because she knows how easily she can make us laugh. Even when she doesn’t try we still can’t peel our eyes off her. She is just so yummy and squishy. Even when she cries she looks sweet. She pours over books for hours, stopping and peering close up at a particular picture for several long seconds before saying “hmmmm” and then something in Russian that I think means “That is so fascinating”, turning the page and doing the same all over again. She always has something in her arms. She’ll find something random – yesterday it was Jemima’s pants – and holds onto them loyally for an entire day. And when she is tired woe betide anyone who tries to separate her from her chosen item of the day.

All of this she does while Jemima rearranges the furniture around her and does gymnastics, jumps from one island to another and makes a ‘baby school’ a la ‘gymboree’ for Bella. I just have to sit there with my tea and assume a range of undemanding roles such as mummy mermaid, crocodile or friendly monster. Actually we made the mistake of watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang last weekend so now I am the child catcher. Apparently I have a ‘nice big nose’ so the role suits me perfectly.

Jemima always addresses Bella as ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’ and laughs when she does something sweet, strokes her face and tells her she is ‘such a sweetie’. She seems to genuinely rejoice in Bella making us laugh, looking lovely in a dress, enchanting all the Khmers we meet. I’ve no idea how long it will last but I am determined to enjoy and cherish and nurture the lovely friendship they have. They adore each other and it makes me wish I could remember the early years with my sisters. I have three older sisters and it is lovely to think that when I was a baby I was fussed over as much as Bella is today.

As for me (and James feels much the same), once Bella was born I never had to think again about whether I would be able to love another child as much as Jemima. It just happens. But I am not saying it feels the same second time round. It is a very different thing I find, loving a little baby, than a three year old child with a mind of her own, which she expresses loud and clear and often. I know Jemima so much better than I know Bella. Or at least there is more of Jemima to know, if that makes any sense. So while my love for Bella is deep and protective, it is still very physical. I still breastfeed her on demand, sleep with her, pick her up whenever she or I need. Of course we play and talk and listen to each other a lot as well, but I don’t understand Russian. Jemima’s relationship with me feels a lot more emotionally intimate. It feels strange writing this because as a mother of just one baby I am sure it would be hard to understand. Until your child begins to talk and share their view of the world and life within it with you, and then you have another baby to remind you what it is like loving a baby... then you will understand. Hmmm, do any other mothers of two share these feelings or relate to what I am saying? Ho hum... anyway my point is, dear J, it is different but all good. Lovely. Cherish what you have now but relax in the knowledge that you have something to really look forward to and be excited about.

I am off to steam my cold away. Yesterday Sophy made me lie in a boiling hot bath full of Kafir limes and lemon grass and sweat it out. I recommend it actually – as long as you have lots of drinking water at hand. She is telling me to do the same today so that I am well for the flight tomorrow. So that’s what I’ll do. And I will try to blog from time to time from England. Bye all 

If you like this post have a read of this one too, about Attachment parenting for making life with siblings easier.


Jeanette said...

As a mother of four,you make perfect sense to me. ;0)

Georgie said...

I am not worthy! I am not worthy! Respect xxx

Anonymous said...

I too am a mother of two - a nearly 3 year old boy and a 1 year old girl (born 23/7/08 ...!). Before my daughter was born I was pterified that I was 'betraying' my son. You have written about this subject beautifully - and you are so right about the love being different for each. I wonder how it will be when they are both older!! Have a safe journey!

Georgie said...

So great to hear that people know what I mean and share some of these experiences. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment! Gx

Anonymous said...

oh my god i've been reading this all week i love it. so hilarious. i read a blog yesterday about jemima saying rather loudly at an ex pat party my dad likes eating pussy. i nearly fell off my chair! waht no one else heard is that she had been listing everything he liked to eat and then saw a cat or something. anyway i nearly died laughing. and some really sweet useful thoughts in there too.