‘Bonding’ is best described not in words, but in actions. When early on you teach the older one with love, to give love; they never envy the younger one, they never live with a complex and are always there to protect.
My four years old boy, having passed through his share of insecurity and confusion about the arrival of the younger sister; had only love to give when she finally arrived. Ever since I got pregnant, my only concern and worry was about my boy, who had always been the centre of my life for the last few years.
How will he react?
How will he stay home when I will be in the hospital?
How will he feel about me breastfeeding the new born?
Will he feel all the attention is diverted to the newborn?
Will he be jealous, insecure or hurt?
Will he love her?
Will he share his toys and space ??
My sore body, my delivery or my duties as a new mother never stood as a challenge for me; my only concentration was on setting the right note for my older one to understand what it is to have a sibling. This could be his most cherished bond if everything went right. But.. God forbid, we make some mistakes in handling this, if we are not sensitive enough to the needs and emotions of the older one; we might just make this the most complicated bond they will have to bear with all their life. And I had vowed to never let the latter be the case in our case.
My sister had a very difficult second pregnancy while her daughter was hardly two years old. She had to leave her daughter at our mother’s place during the last trimester. Initially her bedrest and then a very demanding newborn; left her with very little physical energy and mental bandwidth to take care of both of them together. Her best option at that point was to leave her older child at her maternal home. Little did she know that this will be the biggest mistake of her life which will haunt her even fifteen years later? My older niece, now all of sixteen, is going through a very complex relationship with her mother, blaming her for abandoning her as a child and then being partial towards the younger daughter ever since.
Chanakya once said that we must learn from the mistakes of others because we don’t live long enough to commit all those mistakes and learn from our own mistakes. But, we humans have a tendency to overreact when looking at other people’s mistakes – either we over-judge by blaming them and being too critical; or we under-estimate by telling ourselves that this is never going to happen to me. We don’t reflect upon life objectively and don’t deal with fellow humans sensitively. For a week now, I wanted to write about sibling bonding but life was taking away all my time. And then I read a fellow #momblogger write about ‘Sibling Rivalry’ – justifying all her actions as the mother who didn’t know how to manage the two children but hated being labelled a bad mother. This is when I was compelled to wake up in the middle of the night and finish my article. I don’t want to write from a place where I rant about everything around me or get defensive about who I am and why I do what I do. I write from my heart, sharing my experience only to empower the reader to find their own positive experience in their testing times.
Having two children is doubling up your responsibility. In the current times, with all the unnecessary parenting pressure that is created around us; having a single child can also be quite overwhelming. With the overload of information and the dearth of instinctive thinking; new mothers are always at the receiving end of a lot of confusion and anxiety. And to add to the trouble, there is a whole nexus out there waiting to catch you in a difficult situation, finding your one weak moment and labelling it with a big medical term to blind you off your own strength. I don’t know if our great grandmothers experienced postpartum depression and even if they did, how come their dozens of children were never at the receiving end of their internal havoc? Because being a mother wasn’t a thing they did on the side – it was their very existence. We, the modern mothers, are so torn between me – the individual and me – the mother; that we waste so much of time inside our head trying to figure out what must be done rather than doing what needs to be done in the moment.
I had been on a break from my full-time film career to be a full-time mother since four years when we decided to go for the second child, knowing very well that it will take away another four years of my life. But, I was clear in my heart and mind that this is what I wanted. When survival is not the issue, a career can always wait to be resumed within a couple of years; but a child will grow up to never be a child again. When you realise that motherhood is the most enriching experience of your life, that’s when you start giving it the importance and focus that it deserves. Some mothers are very meticulous planners, while some others flow with their instinct. Both these methods work equally well when done with one’s whole being. So rather than stressing and comparing notes; take out some time for some moments in silence – after everything has settled and everyone has slept; take charge of your life – as an individual and as a mother – and you will find your answers for any situation.
So when I vouched to not let ‘sibling rivalry’ seep into my family; first I started concentrating on ‘SIBLING BONDING’. If I only meditated on all that could go wrong while bringing our youngest most into the family, something would have actually gone wrong – because I would have self invited it. Hence, I chose to stay focussed and positive. I hate when stand up comedians make a whole gig on how positivity is overrated and irritating. Those idiots want you to be unhappy, they want you to feel low – that’s when their shops run. Like how Narayan Murthy jokes with Sudha Murthy – if everyone started being content with their current possessions and stopped impulsive or unnecessary buying – the economy will collapse. Similarly, there are a lot of industries that survive because humans are losing touch with their inner intelligence and immunity. Don’t let them prey on you. Look within and keep you own fire ignited – the darkness around will automatically be lit up. Every situation has a reason to be in your life, learn to accept it and embrace it – life will be worth living and every moment worth cherishing.
So I begin this section on ’Sibling Bonding’ by first telling you that it’s worth having two or more children. Now how I am going about it, will be in the following blogpost. Till then, enjoy your moment – whatever it may be – second accidental pregnancy, second pregnancy too soon, oversensitive first child, aggressive first child, sleep deprived mother of two, confused about a second child and/or just stressed about everything in life.