What it’s like with just one… when you’ve got two

Brogan is spending the first part of his spring break with his grandparents at the beach… which means Blake and I are parenting for one for five days. Experiences like this are a testament to perspective and relativity. When I just had Brogan, just about every day with him felt like a full-time job – there was no rest for the weary.  And now that I have two – I still can’t catch a break. But, when you’ve gotten used to two, and then go back to one, oh my goodness it’s like a vacation!  It just proves that everyone measures their current situations against their own past experiences. I would have never thought on my wits-end days with Brogan that one day, when compared to the madness of two, parenting one would just be easy.

Brogan beach

Beckett is a little perplexed about where “Bubba” is… he walks around, says his name with an inflection in his voice that says where’s bubba and I tell him that he’s with Nonna and Bop Bop. He’ll then say, “Ohhhh, Bubba, No No, Bop Bop, m’kay”. And then I suppose he either forgets – or likes our dialogue – because we’re right back to the Bubba question before you know it.  But don’t go feeling bad for Beckett – oh no, he’s loving life as the only one.  He’s had two parents one-on-one and you can tell that it has filled his little sail! This evening he was running around the background like he owned the place.  He’s also not competing for toys. You know how that goes, as soon as he goes to play with something, Brogan finds an interest and then the fighting ensues. But this week, Beckett has free reign to everything and he’s loved it. It’s been his place around here.

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Since Brogan has been gone, the house has been cleaner and quieter. There’s been less arguing and it’s just been easier.  But I don’t think easy ever lead to anything great. And so while a break every once in a while is healthy, I love my crazy life. I love being on my toes, being challenged, being stretched too thin. I love seeing the boys interact with each other; I love the teamwork that takes place when Blake and I have to divide and conquer. I love hearing my little charmer tell me, “this is the best dinner EVER!” I miss my little guy terribly. I miss hearing his crazy stories and his thoughts on life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been loving my special time with Beckett, but I’m the mommy of two boys and my life’s not quite complete without them both.

And I fully recognize that I’ll be eating my words by later this week.

Oh, Beckett

Now I know I don’t write too much about Beckett. The thing is, thank goodness, he doesn’t give me a whole lot to write about. First off, he doesn’t (really) talk yet. So while I’m waiting for witty little things to come out of his sweet mouth, they haven’t yet. I’ll let you know when they do. Secondly, all of his behavior issues pale in comparison to his older brother. His little outbursts aren’t nearly as bad as his brothers were, and so we feel we’ve sort of been there, done that, got the t-shirt… no soul searching, no advice needed, no pulling-my-hair-out/at-my-wits-ends diatribes.

But I’m very conscientious about the way I (we) treat Beckett in relation to his brother. I worried about this from the day I found out he was a boy… that he would constantly be compared to his brother. Because, as is with most first-born children (especially “spirited” first children), the entire world revolves around them. Now of course we are biased, and as most parents think, our first little boy was the sweetest, smartest, cutest little boy ever And so when they said Beckett was a boy too, I prayed that he’d be able to hold his own next to Brogan.  If I’m being honest, I prayed that they’d be similar in size (Brogan was a 90-percenter), in smarts, in ability, in personality. And not similar in that I wanted another Brogan (one is enough, I assure you), but that I didn’t want Beckett to be in his big brother’s shadow.

So I started thinking about the things that I would (or wouldn’t) do with my second to help ensure he didn’t grow up feeling like he was just Brogan’s little brother… in a way these things would help set the tone that he’s his own person and we love him just as much as his older brother. And when Beckett’s older looking through family albums, he’ll swell with pride because he’ll see we did as much for him as for his brother…

  • The nursery – Just as I had done with Brogan, we went all-out on Beckett’s nursery.  And while it would have been easier to put Beckett in Brogan’s baby room, we didn’t. He got his own room, his own theme, and while we did re-use the furniture, it was definitely his room.

Beckett's nursery3 Beckett's nursery1

  • The birth announcement – I felt like Beckett deserved his own announcement. Rather than use a picture of both boys (which was really, really cute), I opted for a solo pic on the front. It may not seem like a huge deal, but I just kept thinking that he’s more than just Brogan’s brother, he’s his own person, and therefore he gets to be the star of his announcement! And the cute little picture of the two of them when on the back. Everyone’s happy.

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  • The clothes – Now I’m not totally crazy.  Beckett does wear Brogan’s hand-me-downs most days. However, for real pictures (the ones I pay for) and holidays, Beckett gets his own brand-new stuff.  Period.

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  • The birthday – It has yet to be decided what we’ll do when the boys turn 2 and 4 in May (their birthdays are 2 days apart), but with Beckett’s 1st birthday, he got his own party and I went all out. Perhaps even more so than with Brogan’s (really because I’ve got a disease and I can’t stop out-doing myself…)

Beckett's 1st birthday1 Beckett's 1st birthday2

  • The pictures – You always hear, “I took so many pictures of my first, but never took any of my other kids…” I am that first of four and feel bad that my siblings don’t have as many pictures as I do when I was a baby. I vowed this wouldn’t be Beckett’s destiny. No way. And I’m proud to say that (so far) I’ve made good on that promise. I really think that I may have taken more pictures of Beckett, to be honest. The trick for me is I keep my camera out. It’s always just a few feet away and so I’m always taking pictures.

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Blake has been on board with this too. He is a twin, so he has grown up trying to establish his own identity and not just be “one of the twins”.

My sweet Beckett. I feel confident that he will be able to hold his own. He is so much different than Brogan, in ways I couldn’t imagine, that I don’t worry about him like I once did. He’s handsome and funny and charming and has one of the most infectious laughs ever. He does funny things like sit on the couch and rock (a lot), and then he wants you to sit on the couch… but not next to him. Oh no, you must sit four feet away on the couch. And you must put your back against the back of the couch, as if you’re in position to rock just like he does.  And I know this is what he wants because he walks over to the spot he wants you at and pats the couch… and then pats the back of the couch. And when you comply, he contently gets back in his original position and looks at you and smiles. He is going to be just fine.

Bringing Home a Little Brother

When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I immediately started thinking about how it would impact my first.  Little did he know that his whole world was going to be changing.  I worried mostly about how he’d react without all the attention.  With my world so full of him, I wondered how two would fit and where the sacrifices would be made.  So my husband and I tried to be very deliberate about the choices we made when it came to introducing Beckett into our home.

The first thing we had to tackle was the new nursery – Beckett was going to use the same crib and furniture as Brogan (which Brogan was currently using).  We worried about Brogan feeling like the new baby was taking his “stuff” (especially the crib) so we opted to move him into a toddler bed at 20 months (4 months before Beckett’s arrival). The hope was that those 4 months would be enough time to unattach him from his crib.  It was – Brogan never once referred to the crib has “his”.  He was proud of his new big boy bed, and was also excited about Beckett’s new room.

We decided to make Brogan a book that would explain the transition.  We knew there were books out there, but we wanted one that he could identify with, that spelled out exactly what was going to happen to him and that showed pictures of people he knew.  I made it in Word, used clipart and pictures of his family, and even bound it with my binding machine at work.  It went through his new role of big brother, that mommy and daddy were going to the hospital to have his brother, that his Gigi was coming to stay with him while mommy and daddy were in the hospital, and what it would be like with a new baby in the house (crying, mommy holding him a lot, things he could help with).  We emphasized what Brogan was getting out of the deal – a new brother and a best friend.  We really wanted their relationship to get off on the right foot!

When we got home from the hospital with Beckett, Blake took Brogan out to buy Beckett a gift.  We let him pick it out – anything (within reason) that he wanted his brother to have.  We also gave Brogan a gift from Beckett.  Brogan was so proud to have given his brother a present (I think this was more impactful than the gift Beckett got him!) It was really neat watching him puff up with pride showing off the present that he got his new brother!

Welcoming Beckett into the family was a much smoother transition that we had anticipated.  When Brogan was jealous, it was only short-lived and didn’t seem to temper his feelings toward his brother.  Who knows if anything we did in preparation worked, if it was just Brogan’s nature, or if we simply got lucky, but I’m proud to say that they seem to actually like each other!  Brogan has a pretty big personality and is always seeking the limelight.  We worried about this need to be noticed, but didn’t consider that in the end, he would make sure he was noticed!  So if too much attention was paid to the baby, Brogan would pick up his guitar and sing a song, problem solved!

While I’m not so naïve to think they will always get along, I’m praying that this liking each other thing will last at least a little while longer.

The other day in the car…

Brogan: Mommy, I don’t love you anymore.  I don’t love you, or daddy or Beckett. I just love myself.

[silence as I was thinking through how to respond – not the first time I had heard this one]

Brogan: Mommy, I changed my mind, I only love myself and Beckett.

Brogan holding Beckett