ideas for connecting with my 3 yr old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 05-08-2003, 01:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Im having a hard time APing my 3 yr old. Im still in the baby honeymoon period I guess, and she is really acting out and sassing and hurting her sister to get my attention. It is hard to get time to cuddle with her and reconnect as my husband works strange hours and is taking a class and teaching a class. I spent all this effort APing her as an infant and toddler, and it was just us for a long time because DH travelled... and now in the year since we moved here, I feel like ive undone all the attaching I worked so hard at when she was small.

When I was pregnant with Lily, I was feeling very much like I was being smothered by Grace. She watched a LOT of TV and played alone during it, I wanted space and time to myself. I really didnt have a reason for it. Could it have been chemical? We moved in my 4th month from Maryland to North Carolina, and everything was really insane for the months surrounding the move, and then with the impending birth.

I should also interject here that Ive wondered about my own view of attachment being skewed by the situation I was in when Grace was born. Grace was a high needs baby for sure. I think the only times she wasnt latched on in her first year was when I was in the shower or she was in her carseat when I was driving. My husband was gone from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm, in bed by 9:30 for the first 10 months. Then he was gone 3 weeks a month 5 days a week for several months. Then home for 3 straight months, then gone for 4 months overseas. Having few friends and no relatives, the high need was always met by me. We attached deeply. It was just us pretty much. She seemed to grw out of her high neediness for a time, but it is back with the birth of the new baby.

Now when I look at that, that is the way I know to attach. There was no one else there to invade on our attachment process. I didnt have to clean and cook, all I had to do was nurse and play. No big sister wanting juice, food, dollhouse, painting, going to play with friends, going "on the shops"... And because it's the only way Ive known to attach, here I am excluding my husband and older daughter so I can attach to Lily the same way I attached to Grace.

I was thinking about it while we were visiting my folks last month, and I feel so little emotionally for my 3 yr old and my husband. He is so busy, and she is so sassy and does so much to get in trouble for attention throughout the day. I know she misses her daddy at work. I know she misses having me to herself. I know she feels distant from me sometimes. I just hate it. Ive only got 2 kids, but playing mommy and daddy to both so much of the time is really draining.

We need to get a routine together, first of all. I am so not a routine person, and I resent having to make one really... but I feel in my heart that if I can get organized, get some me time in the AM and in the PM, I can be a nicer mommy. If I can think of something to do with Grace once a week (not a class that will end or going somewhere she can play) more like a place for us to go and be together doing something... I think it would help.

Everyone always talks about "how will I love my new baby as much as I love my firstborn?" My statement is "how can I love my firstborn as much as my baby?"

This all sounds so performance based. And I feel so guilty for the chemical changes and whatever the heck else there was that caused me to push her away while pregnant. And Im paying for it now, boy. I feel so guilty. And I probably should. But I didnt decide to do it! It just happened. And now we really need to reconnect. In this sassy testing boundaries stage, and with a new baby and a real busy daddy... how can I? Does anyone have any advice for me?

Thanks. Going to bed with a heavy heart and hoping I dont cry from the thrashing I ought to get for feeling this way about my darling high need preschooler.
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#2 of 5 Old 05-08-2003, 08:16 PM
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I hope you're feeling better-I can completely understand where you're coming from. Although I haven't had my second child yet, my first daughter and I are very attached and I see her starting to go through some changes already.

Something I've concluded for us is that perhaps it's time to introduce another caregiver--just for her. Now, for me this means finding someone who can play with her constructively and become special in her life--but while I am there in the house. My ideal situation would be for her to bond with someone & have something to look forward to, so that those times when I'm occupied looking after a newborn aren't so hard on her. I'm sensing that the time is right because I see her starting to bond with friends of mine & I think she would really enjoy it. I think it would be good for me, too--I'd feel less guilty about not meeting all of her needs & would have more energy for quality time with her when the baby doesn't need me.

Don't be discouraged--you sound like a wonderful mother and you'll both come through this transition just fine.
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#3 of 5 Old 05-09-2003, 12:43 PM
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I'm right there with you about a lot of what you said. I'm still pregnant, and my son is almost 3, and I posted about it in real life with a toddler, but we're going through so many changes and I feel like we're not nearly as connected anymore.

We're not routine people either, but have been working on it for awhile. Last night we decided that we're going to be stricter with it. Afternoon after preschool is indoor playtime with me, then we're going to eat dinner, play outside till 7:30, bath after that, then bed.

I think that having a baby too reminds us of when our firsts were babies. And i know that with mine, and he's been challenging lately, I wonder if I did something wrong, how I can prevent it next time, and am overwhelmed about how do I help him.

Anyway, fwiw you're not alone.
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#4 of 5 Old 05-10-2003, 10:07 PM
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I really have nothing constructive to say. I was actually going to post the same thing. I have a three year old and a two month old. My situation is almost exactly like yours. daddy is gone alot. i feel like ds is trying to get my attention, but he is just so naughty sometimes. Its hard to be patient when your exhausted from taking care of an infant, too. Anyway, hang in there. I think it'll get easier.
In fact, right now dh is giving me a guilt trip about being on the computer and not playing with ds. It's not like i don't spend every other second with them...sheesh!
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#5 of 5 Old 05-13-2003, 03:02 PM
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Our older two were both thrown into the role of older sibling at the age of three and it is stressful for them. On the other hand, I think that it is a time of great development for children, and they do often move away from their total dependence on their mothers at that age. Not that they don't need you, but they do want to try new things, including provoking mom, just to see what will happen.

The book "Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka is wonderful. It helps you think about your reactions to your child's actions and to help you do thinks that connect with your child instead of disconnecting. It also helps you understand your child's personality traits. What you see as growing apart may just be your child needing to have her own space.

When my daughter was three, she seemed suddenly to become very distant and difficult. She is 8 now, and I see that those actions that I interpreted as trying to hurt me were really just a thinking child asserting her own opinion. Sure, she was pretty undiplomatic, but in retrospect, she needed some space.
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