Parenting the Second Child
We were having drinks at an outdoor cafe, my family of four and our friends seated at the table. I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but it was lively, and somewhere in the middle of it my one-year-old son dropped his drinking straw to the ground. Not skipping a beat, I picked it up and gave it back to him so I wouldn’t miss what we were talking about.
Then it hit me: Did I just pick up the straw off the sidewalk and give it to my child to put in his mouth??? Yes I did. I froze and wondered if my friend noticed it too. He did.
“Second child,” I explained. He laughed.
I wouldn’t have done that a couple of years before. My first-born child, my daughter, had a cushioned pink high chair cover so no part of her body would come into contact with the possibly sticky high chairs in restaurants. My second child didn’t even get to eat at restaurants very often, and we didn’t worry as much when he wanted to lick the table.
Once our second kid came into our family, we got a little more laid back, more relaxed, less perfect, more chaotic. The important things were still important, but the lesser things had even less significance.
The first child arrived to, “Everything is perfect and waiting for you.”
The second child arrives to, “Welcome to our crazy life. We’re glad you’re here.”
The second child is loved uniquely, but no less loved.
I might not have the hand-written journal for this child. Thoughts and memories are jotted down hastily on a file on the computer and not formatted properly, but I love to go back and read them all the same.
I am more tolerant of messes, more patient with stains, and more understanding with mishaps. When a new mother wonders how adding a second child changes the family, yes it changes it, but it also enhances it. Everyone in our family has a unique role to play.
If you have more than one child, what changes did you notice in your approach to parenting once the second child came along?Published July 5, 2011. Last updated April 30, 2018.