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3 + 1 = 4: the joy of addition

March 7th, 2004 · 2 Comments

this is an updated version of a post I had published earlier and then removed

In a recent post I mentioned how reading Tania’s writing about a television movie had disturbed me. What Tania writes, with her intense insight, often excites me, gets me thinking about something, puts pictures in my mind or gives me big questions to grapple. Recently she’s written about loving the Bay Area, taking a brain spa , and affair proofing her marriage.

In one post she described and prayed about her fears and anxieties for their new baby . Hurray! Congratulations! I am excited for Enoch and Tania. And Natalie will be a big sister!

The other day Enoch described his thoughts:

This week, I’ve been sharing with friends our new state of expectation: another addition in august. We’ve waited ’till now since i’ve seen too many 1st trimester miscarriages, and are so glad we’re out of the woods. Although I’m ecstatic and can’t wait to take care of our new baby (i’m a baby kind of person) we’re worrying about how nally will take it.

Having a baby is a big decision. It’s natural to feel anxious. Perhaps even easier to feel anxious the second time.

I think that going from 0 to 1 child is a transition, Becoming Parents, and going from 1 to 2 is another transition also, Becoming Parents of Multiple Children. It’s like going through a tunnel; you can’t tell what it will be like until you get through the other side. After one child, adding another one to the family can seem even more complicated or frightening. But I also believe that all the uncertainty and worrying can turn into certain rejoicing.

I have heard stories from moms who had such difficult pregnancies and labors with their first babies that they didn’t want to have any more children. I feel sad when I hear how hard it was for them, so hard that they only had one child.

When a second child is born into a family, I think another level of depth unfolds in the parent-child relationship. For me I saw how different our two daughters were from each other. With one child, all the parents know is that first-born baby. But when #2 arrives on the scene, he or she often contrasts with Older Sibling.

The other day at gym class I was talking with a mom whose second baby is not yet rolling or crawling.
When did your first baby walk? I asked.
Nine months.
I was amazed.
Is that early? she asked.
Two of my kids waited nearly twice as long before they toddled.
This mother nodded. We started discussing how easy it is to assume from child #1 what child #2 will be and do. All the experience parents have comes from that first-born. And then the siblings come. Sometimes they are alike. And sometimes different.

Michaela, our number two, revealed right away that she was a different daughter than Abigail, her Big Sister. How and when she cried, the attitude in her little lungs, even at an early age, contrasted to how our first newborn had responded. It didn’t take long for us to know we had two distinct sisters in our family.

Abigail and Michaela, our #1 and #2, are opposites, like black and white. Elisabeth #3 is a little like each of them in her character. But it’s not as if our three girls are black, white and gray. It’s more like black, white and red.

Siblings are a gift parents give their children. The sibling relationships, God willing, outlast the parent-child relationship. Sibling relationships often are the longest relationships in life. I’ve already lost a brother, so I know that this isn’t always true. But in general, the parents will pass away leaving the siblings with each other.

Brothers and sisters have their entire lives to love each other. I think that childhood can help build bonds, but that if the relationship isn’t strong when the kids are young, it can always be built later in life. Siblings can have 60, 70, 80 years of life together.

For me I feel I am just beginning to enjoy my brother and sister. I was the first-born and when I left home my younger siblings seemed much younger than me. My sister was still in elementary school when I was in college. They grew up when I was gone. But now I am grateful that I am getting to know my brother and sister better. We are building our relationship as adults. The years between us don’t seem as big any more.

Through giving my girls siblings, having more children, I became more relaxed. I changed. As a person and mother who likes to know what’s happening every moment, I realized how little I could control. When I had one child, I got worried whenever she sniffled. I labored over her wardrobe. I strove to satisfy all her needs and desires. I could do what was best for her. I felt I was a failure if I didn’t.

But with two or more kids, I had to sometimes choose what I should do if the two children had different needs. I had to learn to go with the flow, for the flow was getting too much for me. I had to give more of myself. And the girls had to learn to give to each other too. They learned to share. They learned to play with each other. It was a lot more work for us all to have more children. It changed our family, each one of us. But I think it is worth it.

Now, now that my children are 5, 3 and 1, it is joy to watch them with each other. The older two say they are best friends. They constantly play togethe. And baby sister, now walking, is joining them. She sits on Abigail’s bed and watches her two older sisters pretend to be in ballet class. They bring Baby Sister toys. They share books with her. They all sing together, Elisabeth in her sing-song toddler tune.

At night when we are all together, sometimes Ted and I look at each other over the dining room table or across the living room and we laugh. The girls have brought so much fun into our family. They are a gift to each other and a gift to us. The journey and the joy are only beginning.

As Enoch said

I really like babies. It’s something about their helplessness and reflections of the purity of God that pulls on my codependent heartstrings, and cuddling & swaddling them is so comforting to me.

Children are a gift from the Lord.
May Enoch, Tania and Nally enjoy this wonderful gift! God bless you all!

Tags: family

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tania // Mar 8, 2004 at 11:44 am

    thanks Julie,
    looking forward to any and all unsolicited wisdom and advice!

  • 2 enoch choi // Mar 8, 2004 at 2:59 pm

    this is beautiful to see how your girls are growing together. we can only pray to have as great a time 😉