Monday, March 28, 2011

Equality not equivalence

My husband and I sometimes get in to the cyclical, pointless debate of "who does more". Who does more for Ben? Who does more around the house? Who works harder during the day? Who changes more diapers? I could go on and on. I have no idea where this competitive streak comes from, but one thing my husband says frequently in these arguments (especially when he's on the losing side) is "It's about equality not equivalence". Or maybe I have that in reverse. Anyway, his point is that it doesn't matter who does which thing more because we are both doing a lot. Usually when he says it, I feel like smacking him. Because of course it matters! How could it not matter? (Especially if I am the one doing more!) But in the end, I know he is right. We are partners and we share the load.

I find myself thinking about equivalence more and more these days now that there is another baby on the way. I have never had a sibling and I have heard all of the stories about how the 1st baby seems to get more attention. More photographs, more clothes, more time, etc. I am embarrassed to say that I am worried that it is true. When I first found out we were having another baby, my initial reaction (following my elation) was concern for Ben. Would he feel pushed out? Ignored? Neglected? Would he think we didn't love him anymore? I vowed to make a conscious effort that it wouldn't happen. (Well, as much as I reasonably could, of course).

Just a few days ago, I found myself on the flip side of the problem when I realized I hadn't started a pregnancy journal. In fact, I didn't even have one. With Ben, I had a journal saved up for years in anticipation. In fact, it was an autographed Anne Geddes journal that we purchased when she was doing a signing at her store with the idea that we would need it in the very near future. (Needless to say, it ended up being the very far future). So, I was dismayed to realize I hadn't started this journal yet and moreover, I hadn't even thought to buy one.

This is just one of a few examples where I realized that this baby might not be getting the full 5-star treatment. So then I began to worry about how to make that happen. Obviously, I can't go back and track down Anne Geddes for another autograph. Likewise, the new baby will be moving in to the already decorated and painted nursery. The nursery has Classic Pooh murals painted all over the walls and I'd sooner cut off my own hand than paint over it. And of course, there are the necessary hand-me-downs. Whether or not we have another boy, this baby will still use the same car seat, stroller, play mat, pack-n-play and bouncer seat that his/her older brother used. He/she will also likely still wear some of the same clothes in spite of gender differences and seasonal issues (I am just itching to pull out the Carter ducky pajamas! In 3 different sizes!)

So we come back to equality. Or is it equivalence? Whichever. In any case, there will always be certain things that Ben has/gets that the other one has to miss out on or times that the baby gets the old worn book/toy/outfit while Ben has something shiny and new. Obviously there will also be times where the new baby will be vacuuming up every iota of my attention span due to the highly demanding needs of a newborn and Ben will feel left out. In both cases, it will be my job to try to maintain a balance between the two of them and to try to be understanding and empathetic to them both when they are struggling with it. (Because let's face it - I do the lion's share of the work around here!)

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