Friday, 7 March 2014

Jealousy

Cherry Easter 2013, when Violet was four months in utero

So having written here how lovely things have been with both girls of late, this week would of course have to throw a spanner in the works.

Cherry's behaviour has been more challenging since the weekend and it has become obvious she is feeling jealous of Violet.

In fact she finally managed to communicate this to me yesterday verbally, which I found deeply touching. She doesn't, to my knowledge, know or understand the word 'jealous'. But she told me she didn't want me to feed baby Violet and that she, Cherry, should stay in my lap for cuddles instead.

(We talked about this a little and I said if I didn't feed baby Violet she would be hungry and sad, and she would cry. Cherry agreed that didn't sound very nice and that perhaps I should, in fact, feed baby Violet.)

This newer jealousy is different and more complex than the odd smack, whinge or demand for attention from Cherry as I fed Violet.

It has undoubtedly come from Violet asserting her place in the world a little more. It's quite plain sometimes that Violet has feelings about her place with me, and Cherry's existence can sometimes impose upon exactly what Violet would like.

A six-month-old baby cannot really be labelled 'jealous' but Violet is most definitely becoming more aware of relationships, distance and closeness.

I have said from the very start I would worry deeply if Cherry expressed no jealousy of her sibling. She is too young and not of the personality type not to feel this way. Her feelings are normal and healthy and the fact she can express them gives me huge comfort.

There is no shame in her feelings and I would hate her to feel she had to swallow them down and try and 'conquer' them by herself, to please me. There is no talk of 'but you love your sister, don't be silly!' or any other attempts to humiliate her out of her feelings. As a society we consider jealousy a universally negative trait but I have no doubt it's a normal human emotion and one with which both my girls must learn to live.

Raising both of our children whilst not imposing upon their relationship with one another is a tricky balance. It's not as simple as Noel spending more time with one child while I focus on the other - there is a family dynamic to consider too. And sometimes it is just a fact of life that only Mummy will do.

And so here we are, entering a new phase of our life together. The next six months will see rapid developments from both my girls, and I can't deny I am only becoming more and more consumed by them.

I also don't think this means Cherry feels any differently about Violet herself. The girls adore one another and now Violet is robust enough for more physical play, we have happy times chasing one another around the house, bouncing on beds, reading stories together and playing with toys.

The days focused on Cherry with Violet a passive and easily-pleased bystander are truly over - the challenges of a newborn and a toddler are behind us.

The challenges now revolve around us learning to live together as a family in which everybody's needs are equal, none superior, the most pressing are attended to, and all are respected.






2 comments:

  1. "As a society we consider jealousy a universally negative trait but I have no doubt it's a normal human emotion and one with which both my girls must learn to live." I fully agree. Jealousy is to want what is yours. You'd worry about the health of your daughters' attachments to you if there were no friction. This is an interesting post for me to read as I'm expecting to be facing similar in the days to come. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Adele. I look forward to hearing how the relationship between your two girls develops too. I find their dynamic really interesting, six months is a big age for a baby and this has had both positive and negative effects on Cherry and Violet's relationship.

      Most notably they now share a room. I had planned for them to continue napping in separate rooms (as Cherry naps for longer) but for the last few day's she's just assumed Violet will nap at the same time as her, in the cot next to her - and so she does.

      I am actually finding Violet is less disturbed in her daytime sleep when she's in a room with her sister. I think they both like the company.

      One of the wisest things I read in preparation for a new baby was along the lines of 'the only reason to worry is if the older child expresses no jealousy at all'.

      Incidentally as a result of this I read Siblings Without Rivalry and strongly recommend it!

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