Being a second time mom is so great. Not because “I’ve let all that stuff go.” Not because Moira was over-attended, and Asa’s hanging out in a swing all day.
But because I know how to change a diaper. Fast.
I don’t fall to pieces when he cries.
I’m not afraid of the breast pump.
Mostly, being a second time mom is great because I’m not a first time mom. People aren’t rolling their eyes when I explain Asa’s schedule, or our priorities for his development. No one is telling me not to worry about things, or handing me lists of things to worry about.
People treat me like I know what I’m doing, which increases my confidence that I know what I’m doing. Which leads people to treat me like I know what I’m doing.
Plus, I’m married to a second time dad. That, my friends, is the best surprise of all. First time dad was sweet and helpful. Second time dad is a rock star. He’s not just helpful…he doesn’t need help.
So if there’s one major payoff to adding a second agent of chaos to the mix, it’s that Lewis and I are broken in. We were already sprinting, so why not sprint a little faster?
Things that are easier than I thought:
Asa: contrary to what EV-ER-Y-ONE told me to expect, Asa is not the “opposite” of Moira. Granted he’s only two months old, but so far his main descriptors are “content,” “laid-back” and “alert.” Which is exactly how everyone described Moira.
Maybe he will erupt into a high maintenance Shiva the Destroyer next month…but for now we are sleeping well, clean, exercised, and eating family meals. It’s not all smooth sailing, but it’s possible. I will say that he eats more than she did, which is exhausting. But I feel like that’s my introduction to life with a boy.
Enjoying the moments: About 10 minutes after Asa was born, I grinned at Lewis and said, “I never have to do that again.” And that is how I have felt about every difficult thing since. I never have to bring a newborn home from the hospital again. I don’t need to get good at this…I just need to find peace and happiness in each stage, and once it’s over, it is OVER.
Self-care: With Moira, it was 3 or 4 months before I realized that I needed to start thinking like a man.
Men are really good at putting on their own oxygen masks before helping those around them. Women have a harder time. I think this is more nurture than nature, but whatever the cause, at one point I had to say, “If I want to be sane, I’m going to have to get the help I need.”
Some people have family who camps out in their home and makes it possible. Some people have paid help. Some people turn to their spouse. Some people hire a babysitter. However you do it, you can’t wait for someone to offer.
Changing the Soundtrack: You know, the sound track to Jaws that plays whenever you jump to a worst-case-scenario conclusion based on one bad moment, argument, or encounter? When you witness a situation escalate from A to B and then assume that you’ll be at Z before you can stop it?
That’s what is identified in the wonderful book “No Drama Discipline” as shark music. The authors list it as one of the primary escalators in parent child conflict. I would go further to say that shark music is the sound track to my entire neurotic life.
The cure? Remembering how God was faithful yesterday and today, and compiling enough little alters to remind myself that he will continue to be faithful, and that every missed nap or refused bottle does not signal the end of healthy sleeping and eating.
Lewis pointed out that we have plenty of other John Williams soundtracks to choose from, and suggested Indiana Jones as the preferred soundtrack to parenting.
Giving zero shits: Once one child has survived my parenting as a happy, intelligent, confident toddler, I have a lot more confidence in my decisions.
So go on, tell me all about how you put your babies on a schedule at 3 weeks old. I’m impressed, and happy for you. I used to hear every mom’s personal strategy and philosophy as an indictment of my own. While I still have to actively shush the voice of condemnation and insecurity, I can and do shush it.
There are plenty of better parents out there…but there’s only one person who can give my kids the proper mix of baggage and advantage to make them who they need to be.
Things that are harder than I thought:
I don’t have a bullet list for this. Basically, having two tinies is a challenge. If it’s worth it, it’s challenging.
Like most things in my life, having two kids is not the complete SNAFU that I thought it was going to be. Do we go to bed tired? Yes. Do I cry more often than I’d like to? Yes, but that’s the hormones. Sweet two-month-old Baby Asa has himself more figured out than I do.
Two kids, a newborn and a toddler, has me at my neediness threshold, but not beyond it. I’m living the reality that God’s mercies are new every morning. Hasn’t failed me yet.