My Second Child Taught Me To Freaking Relax And Enjoy Parenthood
Something special happened to me when you were born, my dear second child. When you were freshly plucked from my insides like a juicy little strawberry and held into the air for me to see, I exhaled and released all the worry I’d carried with me before that moment. And from then on, being a mom has been easier. Lighter. Decidedly more delightful. Dare I say, it’s been even better than it was the first time around?
With your older sibling, I spent so much time worrying. In hindsight, I was miserable. I had a near mental breakdown because the first outfit home from the hospital wasn’t Instagram-worthy perfection. I worried about baby body temperature to the point of putting good old Goldilocks to shame in my quest for “just right.” I insisted on what felt like subarctic room temperatures and full-blast ceiling fans because SIDS. I worried about milestone charts and eye contact and frequency of smiles to the point of practically burning out my smartphone from so much googling.
I worried about some very dark things, like a rogue semi-truck slamming me and my SUV into oblivion on those rare occasions I’d leave the house without your beautiful older sibling. That’s not even touching on the skeletons in the closet that came knocking when your sister was born. My level of worry probably wasn’t healthy, but it’s the only way I knew how to cope with being a new mom.
You see with your sweet big sister, I had to relearn who I was. I had to face all the complicated parts of my own childhood in the process. Each sleepless night, each party I passed up to stay home in the cocoon of new motherhood, each month that went by caring for a helpless creature was a step closer to better knowing myself as a mom, and therefore better preparing me for you, my second-born.
It’s like baby number one let loose a tsunami of emotion, one that crashed down on an unprepared village — me and your father — leaving behind only ruins to rebuild. We’d read the books. We’d done the classes. We’d consulted friends. No stroll through BuyBuyBaby to curate our registry was ever going to truly ready us for parenthood. And so we fumbled through the first years with your sister, honing our mom and dad skills until you came around. The moment you were born we were already experts. It’s amazing how a little confidence can change everything.
Just by being number two, you gave us the most precious gift. You are the roof on our rebuilt selves, finally making us the parents we were meant to be. We could enjoy your newborn rawness without fear that you’d never wake from your sleepy newness to join us in consciousness. We could trudge through that first month of agonizing night feedings knowing it would end, making it as sweet as lost sleep can be. We could skip late-night hours spent feverishly scanning message boards, knowing that a combination of behavior and instinct would help us know when something wasn’t right. You let us enjoy the things that we stressed out about the first time around.
When your sister was born, we still had one foot out the door in the game of parenting. We didn’t realize it until you came along. But with you, darling number two, you brought the other foot back underneath us where it belongs. Thank you for all the big-picture things you’ve given us and the sweet little things too. For letting us steal those extra kisses on your soft baby boy belly. For laughing every time we try to eat your toes. For crawling toward us with reckless abandon. For helping your older sister get over her fear of the Roomba.
Whether it’s a second child thing, or just you being you, thank you. You’re so darn wonderful, we’d even consider something crazy: doing it all over again.
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