It's no secret that we've had our share of difficulties with Jacob. He's an intelligent but very challenging kid, yet despite having some extreme moments with him over the past few months, I'd say that overall he's easier now than he was a while ago. He at least has some really great moments to get us through the hard stuff, moments where you can see the awesome side of his personality.
Obviously the last couple weeks have been on the tougher side, particularly for me. Yes, Craig has had to deal with Jacob's near-constant demands to play, but at least they're spending quality time together and getting to bond. Jacob pretty much doesn't want to deal with me at all. It's been very hard to connect with him. Even when we're having a decent moment, he tends to sabotage it by acting up. As frustrated as I've been in some moments with him over the years, it always seemed that a good hug or snuggle could fix everything. It hasn't felt as much like that lately, and it makes me sad.
The crazy thing is that up until two weeks ago, Jacob was all I knew of parenting. He was my only child, the one who taught me everything I knew about being a parent. My parenting abilities grew and changed with him. And then Carter arrived. He started another chapter of my parenting story, and while my experience with Jacob has served me well so far, Carter will inevitably enhance it in his own way.
I'm actually surprised how quickly I acclimated back to caring for a newborn. I guess it's sort of like riding a bicycle. But despite Carter's neediness, I suppose his needs are easier to care for than Jacob's. Less complicated, at the very least. He just needs to be fed, changed, and loved. Jacob needs everything right at this moment, and everything comes with an argument attached. It becomes infinitely harder to deal with that when there's another child's needs to attend to. Even still, that assumes that he'll allow me to attend to his needs, which isn't really happening much right now.
The hard thing is that the disconnect seems to be getting bigger by the day, and I'm not sure what to do to fix it. All of a sudden, parenting Jacob feels almost unnatural. And like I said, that comes as a surprise since up until two weeks ago, he was all I knew of parenting. Maybe it's just that newborns bring out every crazy little maternal instinct, so caring for Carter is something that comes directly from my gut and seems to override everything else. Suddenly his baby soft skin, smooth hair, and delicate little body parts feel more natural than Jacob's gangly limbs, dry skin, and scruffy hair.
I don't know how to help Jacob get through this. He knows that I have to spend a lot of time with Carter (and he's right--the kid eats nearly every two hours during the day right now--though he does usually give me a break overnight), so it's hard to find a good spot to really focus on Jacob when he's not running off determined to do something else. And even when we do have alone time, like we try to get some nights at bedtime, he ends up acting up and I leave. Maybe I need to push through it and stay so he knows I won't abandon him even if he's being naughty, but it's a fine line.
It's amazing to me what a contrast the two boys are to each other right now. I know that four years and eight months is a lot of time between two kids, but I don't think I realized how complicated it is to parent both at the same time, because each needs such different elements of my parenting arsenal and it's hard to shift from one to the other at a moment's notice. I value both roles so much, but I'm not sure how to balance them right now. Carter has needs that only I can meet right now, but Jacob's needs are more immediate and potentially more damaging if not attended to appropriately. I've always heard everyone talk about the challenges of having two or more kids, but I guess I didn't realize they went so far beyond just the time constraints.
I know we're not even two weeks into this journey and we will figure it out at some point, but it is definitely a challenge at this point. A challenge worth taking on, though, no doubt.