Monday, July 25, 2016

Its Just Different

When Tracey was our only child people would occasionally see me do something as a mom (nurse, clothe diaper, use hand sanitizer, whatever) and say, "Just wait until your second..." meaning, I suppose, that whatever thing I was lovingly doing for my first child would go out the window with my second child.

I resented this comment every time I heard it because I didn't like the implication that I would love my second child less than the first... or protect my second child less than the first.

Even commercials play on this concept -- that the second child is different:

Well, I didn't just get a second child... I got my second and third children five minutes apart and I can say with full understanding, after the first, the subsequent children are just different.

I still DO NOT like the implication that a first-time mother is doing something unnecessary, or is too uptight or anything like that.  She has just been entrusted with the greatest responsibility of her life and she is terrified.  Everything she does, she is terrified and she is allowed to iron her baby's onesies, or make her own baby lotion if she thinks it is best for her child.

All of that being said, things are different with babies two and three.  For one, I am constantly trying to keep up with, keep tabs on, and maintain discipline with their older sister, two-year-old Tracey.

When Tracey was a baby, I was very selective about who held her, and I was always anxious to get her back in my arms where she belonged.  Don't get me wrong, I love Howard and Caroline just as much as I loved Tracey at this age... but I don't have enough hands.

When we are surrounded by family, which we were on our summer travels.  It was not at all uncommon for Tracey to take off out of the room, disobeying me, and I would give the baby I was holding to whomever was closest to me so I could catch up to Tracey and enforce whatever the situation at hand needed.  I often didn't really know who had the baby I was holding until I came back into the room.  It is not that I love the twins less -- it is that I love them so much, I would rather have them in the arms of a family member, than rolling around on the floor, or jostling uncomfortably in my arms while I chase their big sister.

One Aunt in particular makes it a point not to hold babies until they are practically toddlers.  She is a nurse and so well versed in the dangers a strangers many germs can pose to babies.  By her own choice, she didn't hold Tracey until Tracey was nearly one year old.  She started to refrain from holding Howard and Caroline for the same reasons... until Tracey needed me to run with her to the potty in a desperate effort to make it in time -- and suddenly this Aunt was holding Caroline, not because she was a relative insisting on holding a baby... but because we needed her help holding a baby while I ran our toddler to the potty.

It is not that a mother is irrational or unreasonable or overprotective with her first, and more careless with her second... it is that she now has to be overprotective for multiple children and she has to mentally evaluate every situation that arises.  What is that best option for the most number of children?  Probably being held by a relative rather than set down on the floor. 

Now a mother of three, am a I an expert?  Absolutely not... but I do things differently with twin six-month-olds (and a toddler) than I did with one six-month-old.  Its just different.

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