Mommy Mondays: Second Time Around

Mommy Mondays WM

When I became a mother for the first time it seemed like I was constantly on high alert. I was stressed about my baby boy’s sleeping (or, non-sleeping) habits. It was all organic, home made foods. I rushed to wash his hands, change his clothes or his barely used diaper whenever a hint of germs or spit up or whiff of foulness was detected. My radar was sharp. I missed nothing.

I would invariably catch the attention of a more relaxed mother, perhaps on her second or third child, who would smile (condescendingly? nope, I think remembering her own hysteria) and say “he’s your first…it’ll be so much easier with your second”. I would nod and laugh and say something short like “I bet” while groaning inwardly.

or

The blissfully relaxed smiling face would say “You’ll be so much more relaxed with your next child” and I’d say “I guess so.” But what I really meant was:  ‘Really? You mean you can see my anxiety-ridden shoulders that are practically in my ears and my tight smile that is about to make my cheeks explode?”

or

Mother of Year would say “You’ll worry less with your second”. No response. Just a head nod as I would think, “Mind your own f***ing business because if I decide to have a second I’m not going to let that child swim in their own shit, be covered in vomit and drag themselves all over the grocery store because I’ve learned that babies/toddlers are tougher than we think.”

Ahhhhh. Even though there’s nothing worse than someone belittling your present experience because in the future it’ll seem like a trifle, I know that they all meant well.

Well, I’ve had my second child. And, while I still strive to give my daughter the same attention and care I gave my son…it is different.

Am I more relaxed? Yes, but not in her care. I am more confident in my abilities to care for her and to read her. I don’t necessarily find her easier – it’s more that I don’t feel like a baby-idiot any more.

I accept that the intentions of those mothers who were trying to help me relax with my first baby were good. Don’t we all love to impart the lessons we’ve learned to ease the hardships or trials of others. Except it doesn’t really work that way. We learn through our own experiences. Period.

I’ve been a mother to two children for three months now.  So, how have I changed my approach to motherhood as a consequence of my experiences?

  1. I will carry and hug and kiss and cuddle my children as much as I want. They grow fast and I will never, ever have this day with them again. I want my children to look back at their childhood and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were loved.  And even if they do get a little spoiled with hugs and kisses…better that than feel less than important.
  2. When my baby cries I will pick her up. If my baby needs to fall asleep in my arms, she can.  If she wants to sleep with me, she can…because her brother did…and now he’s fine and sleeps independently…well not since his sister was born (but that’s another story)…and I doubt either of them will require to sleep with us when they’re adolescents…
  3. If I am in any way feeling irritated or less than patient, it is better to wait a few minutes before tending to my children. A deep breath, a moment to myself will help me be there for them without feeling exasperated.
  4. I can leave my baby in her play pen to simply take in her surroundings, check out her toys, get to know her hands and the sound of her own voice. I am not neglecting her because a baby does not require constant stimulation.
  5. I know that dirt won’t kill them. I get it that it is good for their bodies to be exposed to germs. I know that rolling around on grass, kneeling in soil, playing in sand, and jumping in mud puddles should be done with abandon. And, afterwards it should be thoroughly cleaned off. I cannot leave them dirty or in dirty clothes for long. Making the memory is awesome…smelling the memory, not so much.
  6. I will now approach my first born with the same confidence that I do my second born. My experiences with my son will always be a first for me…it’s not fair to him that I muddle it all up with anxiety to then breeze through life with my daughter.
  7. Babies just want to feel loved and protected. All the extra stuff that marketers wish to push down our throats … it doesn’t matter. The same goes for older kids too.
  8. Everything else can wait.
  9. My health matters. I will take care of myself because I hope to be with my children throughout their journey. As my son loves to ask me, “Mommy, how old will you be when I’m 100?”

Now that I’m doing this for a second time…I’m still on high alert but my shoulders are squared where they should be. These are a but a few ways…if you’re a first time mom and these help you out, great! If not, revel in your anxiety and worry…should you choose to do this again, the anxiety will magically disappear. However, I would never dream of telling you so.  

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In Preparation for A Daughter

A few months back I wrote about my decision to not find out the sex of my baby.  I wanted that “it’s a…!” moment.  I was adamant that I would not find out.  You can read about that here.

Then life happened and I was in a position where it would be best to know what we are having before baby is born. That’s when I found out that we’re having a girl!  I cried all the way home.  I would’ve been just as happy had it been a boy – my experience with my little boy so far has been nothing short of phenomenal. But, I’m sure everyone who knows me would agree, I am such a girl’s girl that having a daughter would be…well, it would be expected.

There is a little nagging voice inside me, reminding me that this news might be wrong.  I might end up with the surprise of a lifetime and give birth to another boy.  Unless that happens, I will indulge my fantasies about raising a daughter.

My mind whirls with romantic notions of the bond we will share, of passing down all of the things I’ve learned, of using my wisdom to help her navigate life and the heart to hearts we will share…but, let’s be honest…she’s going to want to learn these things on her own…and if she’s anything like me, she certainly won’t want anyone telling or “advising” her otherwise.

I think of my future daughter and I am scared that she will succumb to the pressures girls and women in the modern era face.  I am scared that I she’ll feel less than perfect because of all the images we are bombarded with about ways to improve ourselves and it is only until we are old enough that we realize that we are perfect just the way we are. I hope to validate her feelings, to help her feel a strong sense of self, to know her voice, and to know herself so well that she will be armed against a harsh world that easily brings girls down.  My mission will be the same as with her brother, I will love her and empower her; I will use the incredible support system I am lucky to have.

My mother is the strongest woman I know.  My aunts, her four sisters, are warriors with hearts of gold.  These four women have influenced me to believe in myself, to know that in the face of adversity I can and will survive.  They give love freely, they speak their minds, they nurture and care for their families.  Love, strength, resilience, and femininity is what I have learned from them.  It’s something that I see in all of my female cousins.  It is something I am proud to claim and I am looking forward to giving my own daughter – to let her know that she is not alone when she is facing the friend who gossips, the group of girls who reject, her own inner critic saying she is not pretty enough, or the boy who breaks her heart.

Motherhood has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.  I have fully invested myself in raising an incredible boy and helping to guide his path into manhood.  And, now I get to do that with a daughter – you’d think it would be easier since I’ve lived it.  Precisely because I’ve lived it, it’s actually tougher.

For now, I’ll concern myself with preparing for those sleepless nights and feeding schedules.  I will immerse myself in her babyhood as I did with her brother.  I’ll hope for a healthy baby.  And, I’ll deal with the rest as it comes.

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Independent When Married With Kids?

Hello all!

I recently contributed to Rebellious magazine’s July issue on Independence.  Check it out when you have a chance! 

A Wedding Band and a Baby: Independence Killers? I Think Not.

Have a fantastic weekend!