During my second pregnancy, I heard from many moms about the ease of having a second child. The baby stuff is sooo much easier with your second. You’re a pro now, you got this! And in some ways, that was true.
My second was a mellow, happy baby. He ate well. Slept well. Transitioned perfectly into child care. He was a model baby. An ideal candidate for a Gerber baby shoot he was. Watching him play contently in his bouncy chair, my husband and I would look at each other and think: we’ve hit the baby lottery with this one. He even arrived early, saving me from three, brutal weeks of summer pregnancy–the ultimate illustration of his benevolence.
Our lil’ baby bliss could be partly due to his laid-back nature and our growing confidence as parents. But I’d like to think it’s because we’re older now.
With our first child, we documented everything–her first words, first steps, first tooth. We eagerly waited for the next milestone and praised her accomplishments obnoxiously in profuse Facebook posts. When she cried, we rushed to respond. We put our needs second to her safety and development.
With our second child, we were still preoccupied with safety and development, but are now more patient, flexible and resilient. We don’t sweat the small stuff nearly as much, are smarter in choosing our battles, and tend to look at the bigger picture. But I’m not referring to parenting.
Our marriage has grown over the years. The initial shock of parenthood was enormous. We were not prepared for dealing with sleepless nights, baby blowouts, and tight finances. Finding time to feed, bathe and play with her between our work schedules was challenging enough. We were certainly not feeding, bathing, and playing with each other. We gave all our attention to her and had little left over for each other, apart from the routine squabbles about everything from cleaning dishes, doing laundry, and our total lack of playtime.
With our second, we focused more on our marriage and made small changes like how we divvy up the household chores, encourage the kids’ independence, and make time for each other. Family dinnertime is simply the most reliable way for us to connect and find out what’s going on with each other. But it so happens, as soon as my husband or I get to a juicy part of any story, we hear a little echoing voice Mom…Mom…Mom as if she knows exactly when to interrupt. With very few exceptions, we don’t let her. Although I love me a good fart/burp/poop joke, we need to enjoy some adult conversation too.
Patience, love, and compassion–virtues in a marriage that are routinely buried deep, Deep, DEEP underground by more pressing parenting duties. But with time and maturity they can be slowly unearthed and bring great happiness–to children, spouses, and homes. I’d like to think I give my kids and my husband a genuine feeling of ease and happiness. And boy do I get some back, and more.