It’s apropos that Lumunos’s focus in 2020 is on relationships, as I am facing two really big relationship challenges this year. In addition to giving birth to a son sometime in April, I will also be navigating how to foster my relationship with my dad who was diagnosed last year with Alzheimer’s. The wonderful thing about working with Lumunos is that I can share these stories, hear other people’s stories, and know that I’m not alone.
I’ve seen the impossibly cute and heartwarming YouTube videos of toddlers meeting their new siblings. I’ve also read the distressing stories of older siblings’ aggressive behavior towards new babies. I’m guessing our reality will exist somewhere in between, but I know the dynamics of our family are going to shift irrevocably.
My three-year old daughter will lose her status as the only child and become a big sister. She’s perceptive, sensitive, and covetous of my time and attention, so I worry about her adjustment. But she’s also deeply loving, helpful, and empathetic. My hope is to survive the first year, but that someday she, like me, will view her brother as her best friend.
I will once again become the mother of a newborn. This was so all-consuming last time that I wonder how I will balance my time spent nursing, soothing, and getting to know a new baby with the time my daughter and I need together for snuggles, book reading, puzzles, crafts, selecting outfits, playdates, and playing outside. My hope is that Maya continues to feel secure, loved, and valued, while our baby boy also figures out that he is safe, loved, and encouraged to explore his new world.
All the while, my husband will be trying to figure out how he fits into these new relationship dynamics. I know he will take over more household duties, spend more time with Maya, and make sure my basic needs are met, but I suspect he will feel a bit left out when it comes to forming a relationship with our son in the first few months. My hope is that he will be patient, knowing that his bond with Maya is strengthening and that his relationship with his son will become central in the future.
As for my relationship with my dad, it would be easy to fall into darkness. Aside from the Alzheimer’s, his physical health is poor, and he lives in Michigan (a fifteen-hour drive away). I feel a sense of sadness and loss because it’s unlikely that he will ever have a close relationship with his grandchildren. Yet, there is light as well –he remains astoundingly positive given his prognosis. My hope is to find acceptance, to let go of past grievances, to listen more intently to the stories I’ve heard many times, and to enjoy the gentle and contented man that he is.
One of the most important relationships of my life is beginning, while the ending of another is starting to unfold. Though I can’t control these changes, I can adjust how I navigate them. I will try my best to let go of expectations and focus my energy on what’s most important – connection.