Sharing the Load

Follow me, like a procession! Bea commanded us to proceed into the hallway and watch, enthralled, as she colored a square on her rewards chart.

I rolled my eyes and muttered to Frank, No wonder firstborns are egocentric!

IMG_9552One of the biggest adjustments of having two is the classic need for our firstborn to abdicate all the attention we had showered on her. And, Elle is our classic second – long fuse, content with what she can get. (Mostly. I’m noticing Elle already knows how to use her squawking to get what she needs…)

One of my biggest worries about adding a second was being fair. We had been able to shower Bea exclusively – how was I going to recreate that attention and those special moments for Elle?

The answer is, I can’t. It is literally impossible to give Elle the undivided attention I was able to give Bea. And that’s ok. It’s ok on so many levels – clearly second born kids are just as successful. But I also see that Elle gets more attention than Bea did. Perhaps it’s not exclusively from me, but when I’m making dinner or doing something else, Bea is right with her, reading and talking with her. The spaces in which I feel like I’m not giving enough are filled by her big sister.

Frank just finished reading The 5 Love Languages and I just finished reading the version for children. I was reminded that, while having a full “love tank” is so important, it doesn’t have to come from one single person. (Elizabeth Gilbert also talks about this in Committed.) We’re learning to outsource what we can, to spread out into our community for what we can, and to use our strengths (and stretch our weaknesses) to do what we can.

So, our firstborn still adjusts to split attention and our baby thrives on attention from many. And I’m learning that it’s ok that I can’t do it all myself. That’s why we have communities and friends and siblings – to help share the load.

Where are you in the birth order? How do you spread out your responsibilities?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt was “first.”


Published by

Annie Rim

Welcome! I live in Colorado with my family and have taught in the classroom, at an art museum, and now in the playroom. I reflect about life, faith, and books here on my blog.

13 thoughts on “Sharing the Load”

  1. I loved this “The spaces in which I feel like I’m not giving enough are filled by her big sister.” That can be so true for all of us! I know I want my “love tank” to be filled by a few select people, but maybe by demanding that in my own heart I miss out on so many other opportunities that God had been providing all alone!

  2. Annie, I loved reading this post. Reading how Bea is adapting and even stepping in (whether she knows it or not) to meet some of Elle’s needs is beautiful. It’s always beautiful when we have a community to reach out to. In a society that tells us to be self-sufficient, having community is a rarity.

    I’m sure it will shock you to hear I’m a first-born. Where are you in the birth order?

    By the way, my hubby and I gleaned so much from The Five Love Languages!

    1. I’m a very typical firstborn. (As is Frank – poor Bea has both of us as models!!) I read the Love Languages when we were first married, but it has so much more depth a few years in… And the one for kids has transformed my interactions with Bea. Such wisdom!

  3. Whew! Isn’t great to know her needs are met and that it is enough. You can share the responsibilities and that too, is enough.

  4. I’m the oldest in my family too. Both of your girls are content being in the order God gave them to you. I’m sure i was hard to add a new baby when your scone was born. Visiting from FMF where I’m parked in the #6 spot.

    1. Definitely a steep learning curve! It’s been such a reminder in letting go and allowing God, my community, my friends, my neighbors, to step in and help. Not easy for me, but so so necessary. Thanks, as always, for visiting.

  5. This is so good! I’m expecting my third in July and I’m already trying to figure out how in the world I’m going to give each child the attention they need. Often the personal attention from me they actually need and the attention I ‘think’ they need can be very different.

    1. I love watching the kids of my friends with three interact. The oldest totally love and care for the baby. It’s so fun to see! Good luck in these coming months… 🙂

  6. This resonated with me! When my second was born, I felt like he was never going to get the attention my first had. And he doesn’t. But I’ve grown to see it as an advantage. He’s so good at playing on his own and self-entertaining! 🙂

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