First, to my momma, do not read this blog post.
For the rest of you, having your second (or second and third) child is not at all like having your first. Some things just are different. For the longest time with our first, I felt like we were "playing house." We had this little baby to dress up and bring places with us-- just don't drop him (for those of you who had to take care of "egg babies" in health class). When our next children arrived, we felt like we had the newborn thing down. We knew about late night feedings, nap schedules, and telling the grandparents--again-- that we do not want to put rice cereal in the bottle. (The confusing thing, for us, is that we had twins... a little different than having a singleton.) But we knew how to take care of a newborn and we knew what to expect from each newborn phase. Naturally, this made us actually enjoy some of the newborn phases. "Some" being the operative word. I cannot imagine anyone saying, "Wow, last night was a blast. Our newborns cried from 5 pm all the way until bedtime. It was a great time." We knew that those endless late night feedings were not actually forever, no matter how exhausting they were for the first couple months. We knew that eventually the newborn phase would be over and eventually just the simple act of laying a hand on their back wouldn't be as soothing as it was. When people told us to enjoy it now because it goes so fast, we agreed. I can't imagine how quickly the rest of their lives will go. Suddenly we have a four-year old. If four-years flew by, how quickly will ten? Fifteen? Twenty? Thirty? How does my mom feel with two daughters producing grandchildren? How does my granny feel holding her great-grand babies? It feels like yesterday we brought D home from the hospital. Now he is a big bad preschooler with two little brothers.
But other things are different as well. I remember taking D to the soft play area when he was a toddler. I walked next to him, helping him climb up the obstacles and down the slide. I made sure he didn't put anything unsavory in his mouth and sanitized his hands before he could touch his face. Fast forward to our play area trips now: a four-year old and two toddlers. While D is ripping his shoes off and running towards the slide, C is high tailing it to the climbing wall and O is attempting to eat every neglected shoe he can find. Meanwhile I'm standing forgotten by the stroller holding the hand sanitizer. It just doesn't go according to plan anymore.
There is slew of other things. Not that I was ever exceptionally embarrassed when my child acted out in public, but now it takes a lot for me to feel embarrassed by our circus. There is, truly, only so much behavior that is within my control. Some things were so hard for me the first time around. For instance, the battles that toddlers will pick-- like, every battle they could possibly pick, they do. I didn't know why he wanted to make our day that much more difficult. Now I know toddlers just enjoy the fight. We've also learned a lot about different strokes for different folks. What worked with our first, might not work for our second or third. We've also learned that some of our boys are exceptionally stubborn (I have no clue where they got that from...). We've also learned that some of our boys are exceptionally soft hearted, in some areas more than areas. While we have to sternly tell C and D "no" over and over again, telling O to please stop will do the trick.
This is the part that I really don't want my mom to read. Sometimes we just want to enjoy their childhood. We know how fast they go from toddler to preschooler now. Sometimes we just want to bask in the total outrageousness of toddlerhood, even if that means throwing some of the rules out the window. No, they can't throw in the house, but, tonight, he just looks so darn cute chucking the jingle bell ornament he stole off the Christmas tree... It's even slid over to our parenting of D. We love the things he says, his little views of the world, how he feels about things. Sometimes we would rather ignore the clock and let him talk the night away. (Don't get ideas that we don't enforce law and order. I said sometimes.)
There have been many ah-ha moments along this journey from adolescence to adulthood when I realized why my parents made the decisions they did. My parents still call my youngest sister "the baby," something us three older siblings roll our eyes at. As a child, I often felt this was totally, 100% unfair. To this day, I am convinced that while I was in school, my grandmother and mother were out spoiling my youngest sister. (I swear she had a new toy every time I came home.) Now I'm the mom. Maybe my granny did dedicate her time to buying my youngest sister Toys'R'Us. I don't know, but I really don't care. I know why she did. Childhood is fleeting. It is here one minute and gone the next.
Everyday I have to let go a little more, let my oldest test the world around him a little more, assert himself a little more. I was the mom that cried, "He's going to be going away to college soon!" when he took his first steps. It feels just around the corner, him becoming a man, not needing me to kiss every owie and boo-boo. What happens when my kisses don't make it all better? Or he doesn't sigh deeply and walk up to me whining, "Momma, I want cuddles..."? I'm not ready to let that all go yet. I don't know when I will be. For now, I want to enjoy childhood. Let's play dress up and spoil the kids. Let's turn a blind eye on really long afternoons, let them stay up on a Friday night for a Christmas special. Let's have popcorn and cheese sticks for lunch. Let's hug it out and lay on the floor talking about what we want to be when we grow up.
But, whatever we do, let's not grow up yet.