The Mummy Diaries
When she was young, my daughter had 100 per cent of my attention. Not only was Laetitia an only child for more than three years of her life, I was a stay-at-home mum for a better part of that period. So, I was able to devote my attention to her, not only meeting all her needs but also nurturing her in a holistic manner. However, my second child has been less fortunate. Loïc hasn’t just had to complete with his sister for my attention after he was born, I went back to work when he turned 1. In recent months, the pace of my work has increased tremendously.
Mum of two Sandra Lastennet laments that it’s a slippery slope — dividing her limited time equally between her offspring and avoiding accusations of playing favourites…
Mummy, ng you’re acdtoi n’t like you e. love m
I constantly feel guilty about the fact that my second child barely sees me around on weekdays. Instead of one of his parents, our helper is his main caregiver. What’s more, because Laetitia has a much stronger personality and a more demanding nature, what little time I spend at home is hardly devoted to him. To be honest, when I compare their intellectual development at the same stage, my elder child was way ahead of her little brother. She was not only able to recognise letters and numbers at a much younger age, she was able to scribble her name by age 3. In contrast, though Loïc has just turned 3, he can barely make out what the different colours are and is nowhere near being able to write. With the disparity in my offspring’s milestones, it is little wonder that I feel like I have neglected my second child’s needs and intellectual growth. So, as much as possible, I try to spend more time with him so that he, hopefully, gets better stimuli than what he is getting from the helper. However, there are moments when I wonder if I am over-compensating when it comes to him and that it may seem to my daughter that I am practising favouritism.
could sleep on the bed, too. I agreed, although when I refused to lie down next to her, she said in an upset tone that I was behaving as if I did not love her! This made me feel really bad and I wondered if I had indeed been unfair. It is very difficult reasoning with a child. I tried explaining to my daughter that when she was little, like her brother, I had done the same for her but now that she is the big sister, she needed to be more independent. Well, that logic did not work very well on my then 5-yearold. In the end, she slept on my bed while I held her hand until she nodded off.
Fair play Another recent incident also made me wonder if I was being fair to my children. As I love putting family photos on my desktop, I recently replaced my laptop screen saver image of my wedding photo with one of my son. I thought not hing of t his until one day, during a work meeting, a client saw my son’s baby photo on my screen saver and asked why I only had a photo of my son and not both my kids. I was stunned when she commented that I should not use a picture of just one of my kids as it wasn’t fair. Wow! I never saw that coming, especially since the remark was made by a virtual stranger. Once again, this made me question myself — am I really unfair? Having said that, for the past three years, I’ve only been displaying my daughter’s photos on my computer, desk, mobile phone and so on. So, how is it unfair if I just upload my second child’s photo without including my firstborn’s? Wouldn’t it be more unfair if I never displayed my younger child’s photos? I’ve always felt guilty that Loïc hardly ever gets to spend time alone with me and yet, I am accused of being biased when I attempt to address the imbalance. I’m still feeling conflicted, so much so that I don’t plan to have a third child. I cannot imagine how I’ll be able to distribute my time among three young children. Loïc has just turned 3 and I keep thinking that he is not getting adequate attention from me. Meanwhile, I’m trying to find a better way to balance the time I spend with my two children. I also pray that they will grow up without any emotional baggage from being raised by such a conflicted mother!
I’m still feeling conflicted, so much so that I don’t plan to have a third child. I cannot imagine how I’ll be able to distribute my time among three young children.
Mother&Baby July 12
Illustration CHRIS FOO
s a mother of two young children, I’m constantly worrying if I am a fair parent. I’m also frequently plagued by feelings of guilt. My complex emotions stem from the fact that I went from being a stayat-home mum for the majority of my firstborn’s life to being a busy working mum for most of my second child’s existence.
My children have been sleeping in their own beds since they were a couple of months old, even when we travel. Of course, I make exceptions once in a while if they are unwell. While we were visiting my in-laws in France recently, I allowed my son to fall asleep next to me in my bed before I transferred him to his. I was trying to soothe my jet-lagged boy, who was also suffering from really bad rashes, to sleep. When this went on for several days, my daughter asked me one night if she
Sandra Lastennet has just left her marketing job to embrace being a stay-at-home mum again to Loïc, 3, and Laetitia, 6.
Mother&Baby July 12