When I had my first child, I wanted to do everything by the book. I was so nervous that the tiniest misstep would somehow break the baby. In fact, one of my first pieces was about how shocked I was that they just let me leave the hospital with this infant.
What were they thinking?
I had no clue what to do with him. In fact, the only requirements were that I show them my car seat and make the obligatory poop, which I later found out wasn’t even TRULY obligatory. (I had to do more to get a library card! Not that my library asked me to poop before giving me a card because that would be suspect… though I did anyway — for good measure). Anyhoo…
I was determined to rise to the challenge — All toys were sanitized before they came within 10ft of my child. People were sanitized too, they were also grilled as to when they were last sick, if they knew proper baby handling techniques, the date of their last TB test and if they were taking any meds that would prohibit them from operating heavy machinery (well, if that can’t drive a crane, they certainly can’t hold my baby).
Then came child number two, and I raced to get her home … it’s amazing how much changes between your first and second. You can blame it on the lack of time needed to be as anal, ahem, meticulous as you were with the first, or maybe it’s simply a gain in experience and confidence, but the differences are undeniable. Do any of these first child vs second child differences sound a wee bit familiar…
1) First Child: “Oh, no First dropped a teething toy/pacifier. I need to go home and sterilize that puppy even if First cries the whole way back… it’s too unsanitary.
Second Child: “Look Second dropped her teething toy/pacifier. Is there any hair on it? No? Good.” *huffs on with mouth, wipes on pant leg and gives back to child*
2) First Child: Is only allowed to watch super educational videos (so we thought) like Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby – and you watch with First and follow along with a pointer while clapping and humming, like they demonstrate in the videos.
Second Child: Whatever First is watching should be fine. “Oh, it’s Annoying Orange? OK, then I’m sure there’s some value in that. Fruit is really healthy.” Then you smartly excuse yourself from the room as this may be your only free time all day and the last thing you want to do with it is watch some ear screeching orange do things your child will imitate for the rest of the year.
3) First Child: “I can’t use these wipes straight from the bag. They’ll need to sit in the wipe warmer to reach the optimal temperature for First’s precious bottom.”
Second Child: “I can’t use these wipes from the wipe warmer. Then Second will scream when we use cold ones … We should throw that addictive thing away before Second knows its powers.”
4. First Child: “I will breastfeed until that kid gets teeth, and on a perfect schedule in the comfort of my home while I rock in our glider to the tunes of Raffi.”
Second Child: “This cafe looks like a great place to whip out my bosom, to the tune of people dining and gawking … well screw them, do they not have the National Geographic Channel?”
5) First Child: You’re signed up for Mommy and Me and Kinder Music and Gymboree and Baby Sign Language and Baby Massage and Youthful Yoga because they are all stimulating and wonderful for their mental and physical growth.
Second Child: You’re not wasting your money on most of that stuff, the park is awesome!
6) First Child: You keep an awesome baby book with every detail of First’s days. What else do you have to do but marvel at your creation and log First’s every milestone and experience?
Second Child: You pick that book up every 6 months and try to mentally back track. “Crap, when did you start walking? Rolling? Eating solid food?” Sadly, your memory is shot and that first year is mostly a blur, so you write in rough estimates. “Second took first steps somewhere between 8 and 14 months. It was amazing, I think.”
7) First Child: (While staring at every blip on the baby monitor) “Oh G-d First’s been crying for 2 minutes straight!!!! I can’t Ferberize this baby, it’s cruel and horrible, I must go to First.
SecondChild: “Oh is that crying? I had the monitor off — Real Housewives Reunion is on.”
8) First Child: Having first child’s swing/exersaucer/play-mat is just adorable mixed in with our adult furniture.
Second Child: All of our adult furniture is hard to find, mixed in with all the exersaucers/swings/bouncers/toys/dolls and play-mats.
9) First Child: “You’d like to babysit my precious little darling? Well, I’ll need to do an interview get 5 references and do a lengthy background check. Leave me your SSN and resume.”
Second Child: “You want to babysit my adorable yet rambunctious kids and you’re free Saturdays? Do you have references? Great, no need to give me their numbers, I’m sure they’d say nice things.”
10) First Child: You think you can never ever love anything as much as this little being. Part of you feels bad for the second child before he or she arrives.
Second Child: You realize you can actually love more than one person so deeply and you’re in awe of how true that statement is.
Do ya feel me???
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A big one for me is the signing the kid up for every freaking activity. WHY? They’re not even going to remember it! Mari is four and I’m only now looking at signing her up for stuff. =)
I realized it was the pressure of other parents that made me sign up for so many things. With number two I narrowed it down to a few and just enjoyed the moments we had alone together.
I will say I think the second one (or in my case, ones, because #2 was twins) know that you’re experienced. My oldest refused to take his afternoon nap after about the age of 14 months, and it was like he was challenging me–“I’m not going to nap. What are you going to do about it? Huh, wimp?” With 2a and 2b, I put them in the crib and walked out, and it was like they looked at each other and said, “Yeah, we’re not going to get away with anything. She’s done this before.” My daughter (#4) never tried anything funny at nap time (although to be completely honest, she stopped taking an afternoon nap at about age 3, when she realized her older brother–#1–wasn’t napping then). But during the time she was still taking naps, she was NAPPING. But the rest of it? Totally did all that stuff.
Yeah, that’s too much juggling for me… I could barely keep up with the kids in you comment. Seriously, I think I lost one of them we should look for him? XO
Oh I lose them all the time. But they’re sort of like cats. Sooner or later they come home. Or, you know, get eaten by coyotes. One or the other.
This list is so so hilarious and true. I’d throw clothing in there too. With the first one you have perfectly coordinated outfits from head to toe, all washed in Dreft and perfectly stored in the nursery. With the second you’re just going for clean. Hell, you’ll take smell-free. Pink on the boy? Sure! No problem.
Do true. I bought so much dreft and they bathed so much. Now I’m lucky if I can get them to bathe and my son uses axe. Wtf?
With my first I was terrified everyone around me was going to realize that I had no idea what I was doing as a mom. With my second I shouted it from the rooftops…you know in hopes that someone would come in and take over and save me from the midnight feedings.
The first is so scary. You truly don’t know how to be a parent, by the second you settle into and start to really enjoy between the nail biting…
LOL this is so funny! I’m so glad I stopped at one!
Is it bad if this is the same for me, but I only have one child? You just described the differences between me 16-19 months ago and me now. I’m a bad mom right? Meh, whatever, she can identify every character on Daniel Tiger, and I’m pretty sure that makes her a genius…or addicted to TV…but being addicted to something by the time your 1.5 yrs old? Still genius.
it is funny how it all changes for us between first and second. I can relate to most of what you wrote, but the last one rings especially true. Just didn’t believe my heart could open up even more to another person as it did when #2 was born! I never was able to have a third, but friends have told me that the parenting changes again then too. you go from man-to-man to man-to-zone defense.
This is so true! When I was pregnant with my first, I sanitized bottles and pacifiers and even teething rings by boiling them in hot water and the baby wasn’t even born! I think our constant neurosis with baby 1 is why so many first-borns are Type A control freaks (myself included!)
Thanks for sharing such a great post!
Ang, Juggling Act Mama
Love the Annoying Orange bit & YES to #6!
I sometimes think I went straight to second child. Since I do most of the second stuff with the first.
I was so scared that I wouldn’t have a second child. Now that I have one, I can definitely identify with a lot of the points you brought up. 2nd time moms have a lot less free time on their hands. I think my 2nd baby is just fine with my more relaxed style of parenting so far this 2nd time around. You got me smiling. Thanks!