Tuesday, April 26, 2011


 I don't know how to help Alyce right and it's killing me. I've mentioned before that we've had some rough moments since staying home together full-time. Truth be told, we've been having these moments since the day Shira was born, but they were spread out a lot differently when she was going to preschool. In the weeks following Shira's birth, when I was busy relearning how to breastfeed a hungry newborn and falling in love with our newest daughter, I tried to take Alyce's outbursts in stride (that is, between fits of my own crying. Mama hormones+former nursling+new nursling makes for many tears). She wouldn't hug me for a week, and for the first time in her life she was hitting me when she got mad. I hated that she did it, but at least she was only hitting me. Shira, it seemed, was the greatest present we'd ever given Alyce. Alyce's eyes lit up when Shira woke up from a nap and I'm pretty sure that she quietly fantasized about all the ways in which Shira would eventually become her slavebest friend.

Alyce still loves her sister. She worries about her feelings (like today, upon hearing Shira crying at nap time, she wondered if maybe Shira was feeling scared by a monster in her room) and is exceedingly proud that she knows best what Shira wants ("give her milk, mama. From your breast." Thanks, Alyce). But that's not all. She also knows how to use Shira to her advantage, and lately, this means hitting Shira, very hard, in order to show that she's angry. At me. I don't want to get into the details, but it's getting bad. It was not a good day. Some days are fantastic, but today was not. Today I watched my big girl doing everything in her power to get my full attention, while my smaller girl, literally, took a beating. Shira's fine, Alyce is upset, and I'm feeling terrible.

It's strange, I've meant to call my mum all night and tell her what happened today, but I just couldn't bring myself to talk about it. So naturally, here I am, telling the internet. Well, not really the internet. I'm telling you, hoping that you'll share some kind words, as you always do, that will make me feel better.


  1. Oh NO! I don't usually comment (read your blog incognito under the covers because that is the only chance I get, then it's hard to comment via phone....) ANYWAY, I can just tell you need some extra bloggy hugs and love.

    It's so hard when our sweet babies act like monsters, isn't it? We never imagined this when we carried and nursed them, did they? And what's worse is that every decision for how to deal with it *could* be the wrong one. And there's really no way to know.

    I'm thinking of you, friend. <3

  2. So there was a time that I called my husband's Nana (who was a teacher for 50 year) and asked if she thought my lovely Jo was a sociopath. Indeed, Alyce is not the first child who was seemingly pathologically cruel to her younger sibling. They have for years now been the absolute best of friends.... But, when she was 3 and 4 she could be an utter monster. When she was mad I would sometime see her give her little toddling brother a push when he tottered past or purposely move something he was leaning on. Anyhow, it seems that training children not to be sociopaths or bullies is just another one of the many responsibilities of parenting. And truth is she is now a happy little crusader for peace and justice (at least til the hormones kick in)

    J. Boyer

  3. I send you a hug from long distance (California.) I wish I had an answer for you... sitting here, thinking about it, I have one bit of advice my mother gave me when I was having trouble with my 7 year old last summer after the resident baby was born... My mom suggested setting time aside (a bit every day while the baby was napping or once a week if that was all I could manage) and make it very clear to my older son that this was HIS time alone with me. During this time my job is to focus my attention only on him and make it a special time. To make this happen I hired a babysitter for 4 hours a week. I use 2 hours for myself then pick up my older son from school and take him to a coffee house. We sit cuddled up and chat and I help him with homework. This week there was no homework so I read him a chapter of Lord of the Rings. This does not create a 100% improvement in his behavior (he still tortures the cat and rubs his dirty socks in the baby's face) but I think it helps a little...

  4. Yet another reason to log in the "let's not have another kid column." I'm sorry Alyce is doing this. I know my brother and I fought like cats and dogs growing up. I don't really remember him very well as a baby, so I don't know if I was a mean big sister or not. Anyway, I really don't have any suggestions. Maybe try time out to see if you can curb the behavior. I like M Bloom's idea of carving out special Alyce time too. Anyway, hang in there. I have those days just with one, so I can imagine what it's like with two! Good luck. Krys

  5. Leigh Ann, I laughed out loud about you usually reading under the covers. I do the same thing every night when I sneak into bed, careful not to wake Shira up. I find myself trying to hide the light of my phone! But it is one of the quietest times in my day! Thanks for all the good thoughts.

    J, thanks for sharing that. Tell Jo she gives me hope. I'm having a better time today thinking about this just being another one of my jobs as Alyce's mama: don't step on your sister. And don't hit her in the head with your Dora hairbrush either.

    MB, the hugs are appreciated so much and I'll certainly be setting aside some time for Alyce this week.

    Krys, yes, some days I start to rethink our "let's have a humongous family!" idea, but then I remind myself that this isn't the norm. Thanks for the good thoughts.

  6. I don't have much to offer by way of advice, since my little bean is still baking away in my belly, and I'm a total baby novice to begin with (didn't even know what a receiving blanket was until a couple of weeks ago). But what I do know is that you are an absolutely fantastic mother and have a true natural talent for it. Honestly, you're one of the best that I've seen. So I would trust your gut instincts on how to cope with this, and I agree with the other posters that things will definitely turn out well. It will be a frustrating go of it for a while, I'm sure, but eventually Shira and Alyce will be great friends!

    And, speaking as a psychologist, I think it's almost impossible for mothers and daughters not to go through rough streaks (just wait for the teen years!). Seriously, even being a perfect mother will result in some kind of negative impact on the daughter (e.g., "I could never live up to the ideal my mother set" etc.), and as much as you will likely get blamed for all that is wrong in Alyce's (and Shira's) life eventually, you will also be the person who they are closest to and who has had the biggest impact on their lives. So remind yourself of what a good job you're doing (you could even have a read through your excellent earlier posts), and maybe do something nice for yourself like get a pedicure! You've definitely earned it!

  7. Carmen, thanks for writing that. I love your idea of a pedicure so much that I think I'll be running out to get one tomorrow. Now I just need to decide between pink or red!

    I can't wait to meet the little one this summer!
    Thanks again. xx