Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Second Changes Everything.

There are thousands of posts written about the difference between life with one child and life with two children. Most of these demonstrate, in a self-deprecating manner, all the ways the unlucky second child does not get quite the same care the first received.  I can tick off 80% of the differences on each BuzzFeed or BabyCenter list and laugh through tears at their honesty.

My first was fed homemade organic fruit, vegetable, and chicken purees; my second is sometimes placed on the floor at snack time to forage for food.

Our house was thoroughly baby-proofed for the first; we rely on my three-year-old to alert us if my second one is heading for the stairs.

Naptime was a sacred ritual requiring a quiet, darkened room for my first; my second can sleep in the back of a Costco cart if necessary.

I brought my first to the doctor if he had a fever for more than 12 hours; I didn't bring my second until he'd been coughing for two months.

These scenarios make me squirt my wine out my nose when I consider how Three Years Ago Me would react if she saw the future. Surprisingly, I ran into her a few weeks ago at lunch.

We bravely took our children out to dine and hid in a corner where food-throwing and screams of, "No!!" and "I don't wanna eat that!" would go unnoticed. Next to us was a couple with a baby. I had a chance to watch them for a few minutes while we waited for our food and my husband took our three-year-old to a grassy knoll, concrete pad, or empty parking lot to burn off some energy. They could have flown to the moon for all I knew.

Anyway, I knew from my non-creepy, innocuous observation that parenting was new to the couple. Their baby's carseat had a rain cover to protect her from the day's light sprinkle. My baby had a thin blanket thrown over him to absorb/protect.

They both looked a bit shocked to find themselves at their table with a baby. The sheen of their pre-baby life baby hadn't yet turned to a matte gray. I was toting the parental badge that arrives from Amazon when your child turns two as well as a general air of defeat and exhaustion. My old life wouldn't remember me if it saw me.

I heard the parents talking about work; it seemed that they were both lawyers but she wasn't working anymore. "Uggggggg," I thought to myself, remembering that awful time when I was flailing, trying to get a handle on how being a Mom fit in with my life, "I do not envy her."

After our meal, we started a conversation with them because our babies were smiling at each other. We had only been chatting for a few minutes when the mom asked, "Because he's your second, are you much more relaxed about germs?"

I looked at the baby. He was gnawing the table. The germ-laden table (I never wiped down) in Dallas (a city which recently made national news for Ebola). Then I laughed. "Yes," I answered, "I am."

I have never loved my sweet second baby more. Because of him, I am Elsa on the damn mountaintop letting it all go! I know why she whips here hair out and dons a thin, sultry outfit in an ice storm. She just doesn't care anymore. Wow! This is liberating!

My first could moo and quack by his age. My second can't, but I'm confident he'll figure it out before the SAT.

My first drank brand-name formula. My second seems to love Target's brand and will outweigh his brother soon despite the two-year gap.

My first was sleep-trained and on a strict schedule at 12 weeks. My second rarely sleeps through the night but he is the happiest baby on the block.

My first tried new foods when BabyCenter suggested them. My second gets anything I can find in the fridge and has never refused anything.

Sweet little bug, thank you for making me relax a bit. I know the time and attention equation is off between you and your big brother, but in return you get a Mommy who feels more and more like herself every day.  I would never have believed another baby would bring me back there.

So there you have it, folks. The biggest difference between your first and second child is that your second makes you feel like you again.
There he is! And I have no idea what he's into. Tacks? Knives? I'm sure it will be fine.

1 comment:

  1. Hehe. I only have the one, but I can see it in my other mom friends who have multiple kids. Not only do you have less time to focus on all those controlling parenting habits, but you have experience now. You know that if your baby licks the menu, as nasty as it is, they will probably be fine. I would love the chance to have a second, but having one sure keeps me busy enough!