EDITOR’S NOTE: This column originally appeared July 22, 2008.
Question: I am pregnant with my second child. My son is 3, and I am feeling very guilty about the whole thing. I am worried I won’t have enough time and energy for my son, what with a new baby coming. It seems like our perfect little family will be changed forever.
I also worry I could never love another child as much as my son. Everyone says your capacity for love grows with each child, but I’m worried about it.
We planned this pregnancy, and I very much want this baby, but I’m worried I won’t have enough time and love to spread around. I can’t help but mourn the fact that our family is changing. Are these feelings normal?
Answer: Thanks for the good question. It’s one that a lot of mommies can identify with because a lot of women have gone through the same feelings you are experiencing.
When you have that little firstborn, you devote so much time and attention to get them to the ankle-biter stage, it’s hard to imagine having another one, for several reasons.
No. 1: the exhaustion factor. You know how exhausting it is to have a little one around. Add another to the equation, and you have a realistic idea of the battle that lies ahead.
Well, it’s a great battle, and it’s a battle that you can win.
No. 2: the love factor. You will have enough love and enough attention and enough desire to care for and take care of this new little gift of life. I think it exemplifies what love and a family is all about.
Trust me, as the dad of five kids, you love them all, but you do love them differently. You love them differently because they are different people.
I have to admit to you that the very first thought I had when my secondborn came into this world was that she didn’t look like her firstborn sister.
Now, I ask you, why should she look like her firstborn sister? But it is a natural inclination that a parent has when about to have the second child.
In some ways it makes you realize how different each little cub is.
You ask the question, are your feelings normal? They are more than normal. It’s almost expected.
Enjoy this new baby. I won’t tell you to keep busy because you are going to be more than busy.
But as a reminder, parents are the ones who leave an indelible imprint on our children’s lives. Just be a good parent and you will end up with great kids.
Dr. Kevin Leman is a Tucson psychologist and author of more than 30 best-selling books, including “Have a New Kid by Friday.” E-mail questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Tom Spitz Photography.