Somewhere Between T-ball Practice and Swim Lessons - Preparing for baby with school-age kids
by Alexandra Kuykendall
Smack between T-ball practice and swim lessons is a circled day on my calendar: my due date. Other than the red circle and my growing belly you wouldn’t know that the blessed event was approaching. There’s no baby shower planned, no nursery being prepared, no name selected. I’m not sure if this is what happens the fourth time around or I’m merely still in denial that a newborn will soon be joining our forces. But I do know that the preparedness approach is almost nothing like that of my first pregnancy.
At first glance it would appear I’ve done nothing to get ready for this baby. My life has been so consumed by the “busyness” of running a household of five that the luxury of planning ahead seems like the item on the to-do list that never gets checked off. Lunches need to be made, piano lessons need to be driven to and summer concerts need to be attended. I’m always responding to the immediate needs of those around me leaving little time to pick out a nursery theme or a name.
But at second glance I know I’ve made some intentional decisions about our summer. Unlike the first time around, my preparation is more than just arranging for changes in my life, I now have to plan for those already in my care. Baths will still need to be drawn, meals will need to be prepared and because it will be summertime, time will need to be occupied. There is a reason my due date is sandwiched between T-ball and swimming: So grandparents will have time-filling activities they can count on while I’m in the hospital. I’ve planned to have my children’s needs met when the “It’s time” has arrived.
In fact the real preparation has been of the invisible sort, in matters of the heart. Each of my children will be impacted differently by their littlest sister’s arrival. Gabi, age 8, is fully aware of what being a big sister entails, and is excited about a baby kind of like she’d be excited about a new doll. Genevieve, age 6, is having the most difficult time as she remembers the last sister’s arrival and multiple hospital stays with the baby’s acute health issues. And Gracelynn, not quite 2, has no idea what mommy’s big tummy means for her future.
Last night as Gabi came into my bed to snuggle with me, I seized the alone time to talk about the impending change. Was she excited? She said she was. What was she excited about? The cute, tiny clothes being pulled out of the basement ready to be washed and put away. We talked some about what it will be like for her as a big sister of three, and I did my best to reassure her that a baby would never diminish my love for her. So preparing my own heart, that’s where I’m left, searching for the space to appreciate it all, somewhere between T-ball and swimming.
Alexandra Kuykendall and her husband, Derek, live with their three daughters (and a soon to be newborn), in Denver, Colorado. Connect with her on Twitter @alex_kuykendall.