by Amalia Colussi
Source: Island Parent Magazine
Originally Published: February 2017
So you’ve had your first child and you’d like a second, or maybe your second is on the way. You might figure you’ve done this once before, how many surprises could there be this time around? You and your bundle of joy have survived the famous infant lunge, where said bundle lunges out of your arms towards a pot of boiling pasta, say, or a snarling dog. You’ve survived countless tantrums, late nights, early mornings and encounters with your child’s bodily fluids. Your marriage is intact. “Bring it on, Baby!” you might be thinking.
Well your second born does indeed have some surprises in store for you.
1. You will mix up your children’s names.
I am one of four children and always figured the sheer number of us—four siblings, sundry tag-along friends, two rowdy dogs—so taxed my parents’ brains they mixed us up. Especially hectic days brought forth a litany of names as we waited to hear just who was being ordered to put their laundry away versus who was to put together a salad for dinner. I’ve got a measly two offspring and I’ve already reached the same level of cerebral short-circuiting. Perhaps it’s because I had my kids later in life than my parents did, so my brain was pre-aged; or perhaps it’s simply another of the little quirks, like PMS, that Mother Nature has worked into life for some obscure evolutionary purpose. Regardless, it’s a harmless enough problem, occasionally even funny. Just keep a bottle of wine or some good chocolate stashed away for the time you accidentally call your husband by your grandfather’s name.
2. You will always be behind in something.
You might be one of those mythical super-parents who somehow manages to cook nutritious meals the whole family relishes, line-dry all the laundry you’re always on top of, arrive punctually at all functions, have exciting sex six nights a week, bathe your kids regularly, keep your house spotless and still have time to suss out adorable crafts on Pinterest (which turn out the way they’re supposed to when you make them). I am not one of those parents. In fact, while I kinda sorta managed to stay on top of most things most of the time with one child, with two I’ve pretty much thrown in the towel. Well, actually I’m pretty good with the laundry. For me, it’s the house cleaning that never seems to happen until we have guests or the bathroom starts to smell like a public restroom the day of an eight-year-old boys’ watermelon eating contest.
3. You will mess up in new and creative ways.
My husband and I used to keep a sort of running tally of mess-ups we made with our first that we’d prefer not to repeat with our second (we use a slightly more colourful term than “mess-ups”). Nothing written down, nothing formal or binding in any way. Just an informal list of things to bear in mind when the second child arrived. For example:
Me: “Hey, remember that time Isaac was home sick from daycare for the umpteenth time and he and I were going stir-crazy and I couldn’t think of what to do with him because I didn’t want to take him outside, so I let him jump on the couch while listening to music?”
Me: “Let’s never do that ever again.”
Husband: “Let’s? That was 100 per cent your idea.”
After enough time passed, we came to find many list entries pretty funny. Then our daughter arrived. She’s still young but thus far our list is useless because, of course, she’s an entirely different person. So just as snowflakes and sets of fingerprints are unique, so, too, are the ways you’ll mess up with each child.
4. You will become regimented, even when you are spontaneous.
The hardest thing I’ve had to learn so far with kid #2 is that she has to fit into our existing family routines, instead of the family’s routines adapting entirely to her needs. Life can revolve around your first. If mine napped late, we ate dinner late, no biggie. My second gets a single shot at her afternoon nap. She has a 15 minute buffer, but anything beyond that means I either have to wake her up so we can pick up her brother from school (Cruelty! Who wakes a sleeping baby?), or she wakes early and has to hang on until bedtime. For our family, spontaneity has become more regimented now. As in, “She’s awake! We’ve got three-and-a-half to four hours for some quality nature time! Quick, gear up and we’ll decide where we’re going when we’re in the car!”
5. You will be amazed at the love you feel.
When I was pregnant with my first child many people would congratulate me, then launch into a catalogue of The Most Horrible Moments In Parenting Ever. The best thing anyone ever said to me was, “You’ll be amazed at the love you feel for your child.” I almost wept then and there. One night near the end of my second pregnancy, I looked in at my sleeping son and wondered how I could ever duplicate the ferocious love I feel for him. I was ashamed to admit it to myself but I wondered if I could ever love anyone the same mamma tiger way I loved my first. I can and do. You can and you will, too. You’ll dote and fuss and, no, it won’t be the same as with kid #1 but it will still be wonderful. You’ll fall in love with kid #2’s funny ways and unique quirks. You just might forget her name.
Amalia Colussi is happy with two kids, thanks, and she’ll clean the bathroom soon. Really soon.
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