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It’s just a balancing act | Living with Gleigh

Having spent the last several weeks focused on getting my oldest daughter off to school, I feel like I’ve forgotten I even have another daughter. Good grief! Just think what would happen if I had more kids.

My youngest daughter has often been on the periphery of her older sister’s life. It’s because with that first child, not only has the child never done any of those first things in their lives, but neither have the parents. We have never been parents, so all our oldest child’s first experiences are ours too.

It is not unusual for my youngest to be ignored (in the most attentive sort of way). I mean, I’m still there for her, I haven’t forgotten her completely and I would notice if she was gone, but the majority of my attention has been on my oldest daughter lately.

When my youngest was an infant, my attention was hyper-focused on keeping my oldest daughter intact, because she had a penchant for running off when we were out in public. I had my baby in a sling, keeping her close to me (at least I knew where one of them was) as I chased my oldest. Later in the day I’d realize I hadn’t even looked her in the eye once; just packed her around like a sack of potatoes, throwing a diaper on and nursing her, all the while, yelling for my oldest daughter to stay close.

It has kind of felt like that these past few weeks. I knew where my youngest daughter was at any given moment, but had I looked her in the eye and asked how she was? I think so, but like with her infant self, I’m not sure how quality it was as I dashed off after my oldest.

My youngest is a steady survivor. She’s used to watching her sister blaze the way while she waits on the sidelines. I don’t think she’s ever felt neglected. She knows I’m there when she needs me and knows pretty soon her sister will actually stay at college once classes start and then I am hers for the duration of the next two semesters.

She has been building a costume for an upcoming anime convention (anime are Japanese cartoons; the conventions are to show off the costumes and do other anime related activities; don’t ask me what they are). Every time I’ve whipped into the craft room to empty yet another bin for my oldest to take to the dorms, there is my youngest, sewing away on her costume.

She knew. She knew soon it would be her time and my attention would be devoted to her when I chaperoned her and her friends to the anime convention in Vancouver, Washington this weekend. So she sewed and waited.

My oldest has been home twice since we moved her into the dorms last weekend. Classes haven’t started yet and she hasn’t really given us a lot of time to miss her, so her presence doesn’t feel unusual at this point. As expected, my focus shifted from getting my oldest off to the dorms to getting my youngest off to the anime convention.

It’s really all a balancing act with your kids. We don’t love either less or more, we love them differently. My youngest just started her junior year in high school and is going to anime conventions.

When we get home on Labor Day Monday, I’ll once again say goodbye to my oldest daughter, probably for at least a week, maybe more this time.

My youngest daughter will still be home, costume complete, convention attended and I will devote all my love and attention on to her. Hehehe.

It’s all just a balancing act.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is always balancing on the edge of reason. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.

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