The problem is that a small child is not and cannot ever be an acceptable caregiver for an infant. The eight-year old boy that we see telling Lizzie when supper will be doesn't have the life experience, knowledge, awareness, attention span or authority to actually care for a child Lizzie's age. In real life, having a real-life Mike watch over a real-life Lizzie is a recipe for a very preventable disaster. Kool-Aid Nation might disagree because of the plug-in-their-own-experiences factor but every time I have to see Mike watching over Lizzie, I marvel that she survived to be told that absence made the heart go wander even though I know that their history is a done deal. That's because the near-drowning of April wasn't fate or toppling, it was an inevitability given the slip-shod way the Pattersons deal with their kids.
The problem, of course, is explaining this to Elly. She simply will not hear it owing to several irritating factors. The first, of course, is that she mistakenly believes that she was Phil's primary care-giver and assumes that older children do the heavy lifting while Mommy works and works and works. Given that her memory of the past is distorted by the paranoia that consumes her, she doesn't remember that someone was watching over the pair of them all those times she thought that she was a solo act. The second comes from her very real need to bleat about how unfair life is. She never reconciled herself to the idea that giving birth meant that she'd have to make certain sacrifices; granted, one does feel for her when she complains about how unfair it is that she seems to be living for everyone else but herself because it doesn't seem to those around her that she has any right to free time but when you remember how piss-poor she is at managing her time, it's harder to weep for her. I can think of at least two time-siphoning habits of hers that she could have easily jettisoned that would had given her all the time she could have ever wanted to do everything.
Since she can't stop watching ridiculous soaps or gossipping or separating her whites, lights and darks and since she can't admit that she's wrong about anything because that would be a humiliation without end, she'll go on her merry way doing stupid things, grumbling about the malice of those who offer workable solutions and pitting children against one another by complaining about their doing a bad job of helping Mommy.