When I was pregnant, older women kept saying thing to me like, “the second one is always SO DIFFERENT”, and of course, me being me, I found this tremendously annoying. Why would the second be SO DIFFERENT? Because your second child was? Of course, I think the real reason I was so irritated was because my first child has always been really chill. I mean yeah, he is a toddler and has his moments, but otherwise, I would say he is pretty mellow with a dash of moody (aka: my temperament). So when someone would get all haughty about my second child being this huge departure from what I was used to, I felt like they were chuckling, “yeah, see how long THAT lasts.” Ugh, infuriating.
But the joke was on them. Because my second child is even more mellow than my first! HA! How do you like them apples? Seriously. This kid slept through the night (or the breastfeeding version of it) from the get-go, like 2 weeks in. THAT’S NUTS. That’s not even something you talk about as a mother because you KNOW that it doesn’t happen to anyone. That’s like telling everyone you have a freakin unicorn in your backyard and then acting all shocked when people call baloney. He giggles at everyone (even ugly people and old men with long hair growing out of their noses!) and loves to be held and cuddle. He is a love-nugget. Now, The Boy was like this too, to an extent. Like I said, super-mellow. But the sleeping thing? Uh uh. We are talking about waking up EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR FOR WEEKS AND WEEKS. Then, I got some two-hour intervals here and there. This was while working full time and before I had demonstrated to ZBP how cooking and cleaning is its own full time job. In a word, it was NUTS.
But The Baby also has a different mama than The Boy, because I am much more confident now. Much less anxious and afriad. Although I tried to be more relaxed with The Boy, there were times wen I was borderline frantic about ensuring he was constantly held and that is schedule was rigidly adhered to. Of course, I will also say that that rigid schedule helped him to finally get it together and sleep through the night. When he was ONE YEAR OLD.
But there are other thing too. Like how I validated my own guesses about what I might need to be my best mama-self from way back before I had The Boy. For example, I felt certain that having a mother’s helper around would be huge in helping me get organized and keeping my balance as a parent, wife and the family cleaner/chef. ZPB doesn’t really do chores, ever. Not unless I ask for it, which is to say that I feel overwhelmed. Love him to death but the poor guy doesn’t know where anything is in the kitchen and he is all thumbs trying to cook. It’s not interesting to him, and that’s cool because I enjoy those tasks. He enjoys making money. There ya go.
And there were other things I correctly anticipated; having a daily rhythm was one of them, and so was the importance of family nutrition and high quality of childcare. Eventually, I realized that the things that needed attending to: laundry, cooking, cleaning and helping out when cars need servicing or someone gets sick…these were all tasks that would fall to me 90% of the time, full time job or not. So, we talked about it, and given the immense stress of my position at the time (3 months pregnant with The Baby), I resigned. Almost a year in hindsight, that was the right choice. I spent my pregnant time with The Boy really engaging with him, playing with him and spoiling him. It was our time, and I captured it and savored every second. Every night I held him in our glider chair and breathed in his baby-ness. I pressed those scents and sounds into my mind over and over again, because before long, he wouldn’t be a baby, he would be a boy.
Now, I balance and I juggle. It’s different with baby #2 because instead of being focused on THE BABY allll the time, suddenly I am focused on THE FAMILY. And that has a very different flavor for me.