|Don't toss the baby|
with the bathwater!
But then something else begins to happen. We are exhausted. This new baby won't sleep through the night and we must wake with her. Her crying grows louder and more demanding as our baby begins to figure out what she wants from us. Some people begin to offer unsolicited advice, "Maybe you should let that baby cry so she learns to sleep through the night" or "Just give her a bottle, she's too dependent on the breast". Everyone's got an answer, but few lend a hand. These experts are the strangers on the bus or the distant relative who is never around when help is needed.
Meanwhile the older kids aren't getting enough attention, so they dutifully fall into their well rehearsed family roles in an attempt to restore some sense of harmony, or least an illusion of control. The oldest might coddle the baby, take over some of Moms chores, reassure everyone that it's ok, I got this. A middle child might become sulky, acting out, being "naughty" all the while muttering that things were going just fine until baby came along. And their will be other family members who will attempt to function the way they always have, incorporating the new baby into their family slowly and invisibly, hoping to forge ahead on the path they have already cleared for themselves.
So now that OWS has been moved out of the parents bedroom (Zuccotti park) and is beginning to settle into a more concrete sense of self (individuation) it seems only natural the the standard human patterns of behavior will follow. And a society that coined the term "terrible twos" will find that they are not quite sure how to handle this entire out of control toddler situation.
It is in these early years of identity formation that we have the best opportunity as parents and siblings to either nurture our child's strengths or, pardon my frankness, really fuck them up. I see those of us who have been around a while, who have seen social activism cycle through several incarnations with different focus, as the big sisters, aunties and mothers. I think it's fair to ask ourselves how we feel about this charming but disruptive new addition to the family? How has she changed our perception of where we fit in the birth order? And finally, what can we do as elders and mentors to nurture and guide this child through a healthy development process while finding her place in the family.
© 2010-2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard