When our children are away from each other, it’s like they’re different kids. The baby is the happiest little angel never screaming or crying like she normally does in her sister’s presence. And the big one is her most sweet and charming self when she has all the attention and the patience of parents who don’t have a fussy baby to placate first. It makes me wonder what the second one would be like if she were the first born and vice versa.
It’s like those Luvs diaper commercials. You know the ones — first time moms vs. second time moms. Where the new mommy is breastfeeding in public for the first time in a busy restaurant. She’s nervous someone will see her boob, her baby is screaming cause she’s starving, and Mommy has a full-blown panic attack. The next scene shows the same mom with her second baby. She could care less about a cover-up, her boob is free, the baby is happily nursing away while her toddler throws crayons at the waiter who is ogling said boob. She gives the waiter the, “My eyes are up here” move with her fingers and proceeds to place her order. And just like that, a veteran mom gets her wings.
The other commercials are equally awesome, showing how a second-timer can leave the house with only a handful of Cheerios and a spare diaper, or let a greasy mechanic hold her baby while she writes a check for her new brakes. These are things a first-timer would never do. A first-timer has the entire house packed into the diaper bag and car before heading out anywhere and no one who hasn’t bathed in Purel and had all their vaccines can come close to touching or even breathing on your first born. But second born, shoot, you’d let a group of house-trained monkeys come in and do the job if they were willing to put up with your jerk of a baby.
As a second-time parent, there are a million things I’ve said and done that I never guessed I would. I openly curse them in the middle of the night in my exhausted stupor. I leave them unattended, asleep in their beds while we go next door for dinner. Before you get all Judgy Judgerson on me, I totally have the video monitor that alerts me if someone is crying or being kidnapped (although the signal only reaches the corner of the dining room). What? It’s not like the doors are unlocked and not like we live in a major city. We live in the sticks and have two of the yappiest (I mean, meanest, toughest, tear-you-to-bits) dogs in the world, so no way anyone is getting into the house without us knowing. And besides, we’re right next door….if we were Oprah, it’d be like they were just in the East Wing of the estate. No biggie.
Thinking back, I never left my first-born alone in the house even to go get the mail. And when she was strapped into her car seat waiting in the driveway, I’d lock the doors while I walked the 100 steps to the mailbox even though she was never out of sight. Now I go strap them in their car seats while I come back in the house to get the rest of our crap, moving as slowly as possible, enjoying the fact that they’re locked down and not running circles around the kitchen island while I’m trying to fill sippy cups and snack bags.
We start out as over-protective Mama Bears who fiercely watch over our babies and then whether it be because we’re tired, or more relaxed, or more experienced (and definitely more frustrated), we learn to let go just enough not to go completely cuckoo and to actually enjoy the odd moment of parental bliss i.e. naptime.