The older I get, and the more children I create, the more I start to understand what “they” meant. “They” being people who have done THIS before me. “They” being the people who I thought knew nothing, and who had only unsolicited, unwanted, and completely ‘useless’ advice. You know these people– the ones who tell you “SLEEP when the baby sleeps,” or “move the baby out of your room ASAP,” or “use rice cereal” or “no screen time before 2” or even the dreaded, “You’re gonna miss this, sweetheart, so enjoy every moment because before you know it they’re grown.”
The truth is, two children in two years… It’s hard. It’s nothing like I thought it would be, honestly, in both good and bad ways.
If I could sum up the difference between my first child and second child into one little anecdote, it would be this: Yesterday, when it finally got below 60 degrees in Florida, I took the boys on a stroller walk. I tried my hardest, but I couldn’t find baby Troy any socks. I found 1 infant sock, covered in dog hair under the couch. I thought about putting it on and pulling the pant leg down on Troy’s other foot. I tried, but it just didn’t work, so I put him in Mason’s oversized, 3T socks. Done and done.
With my first baby, I remember so many calm, quiet, beautiful moments. I could tell you exactly how many wrinkles were in Mason’s fingers. I was elated any time he moved up a size and I could cry over his old clothes, bag them up for #2, and rip a crisp tag off his newest Carter onesie. Each day was a new outfit experience. I never, ever, ever f%#$ed with his schedule. That boy is still regimented like clockwork and still sleeps his 11-hour nights with a 2-hour nap (except for the occasional monster or pterodactyl sighting.) If I had an appointment I had to attend, I would ensure it was scheduled for the exact 2-hour window where he was awake and happy, and if the doctor/whoever was late, I would leave and reschedule. I documented his first bath, tooth, word and poop. I was one with him, and he with me. My DVR was always up-to-date. My pedicure never went more than 6 weeks. I would quite literally “miss” him when I slept. (and while I didn’t think it then, I got plenty of sleep). That boy had 20 sets of matching socks in Florida in July.
With Troy, some days I feel like I still don’t even know him, because I am so busy trying to keep his brother occupied, or defrost chicken or clean up dog puke. That sweet boy just observes, and laughs and watches in amazement as Brian, Mason, Jake, Mama-cat and I exist. I can’t tell you what he weighed at his 6-month appointment (that I attended weeks after he turned 6 months). I am just trying to get through the day, and because he’s so sweet and easy, he gets placed in his exer-saucer or floor mat or high chair to babble and squeal and bash cheerios. He slept 8-hour stretches from week 6, and I’m assuming it’s because I moved him to his own room without a monitor. I can’t tell you what his first food was, or how many hairs are on his head. He has had about 6 new outfits in his life, courtesy of his Aunt Ashley or Aunt Jess or Grandmas. He has worn socks about 3 times in his life, and they have never matched.
On a nearly daily basis I think about what being “first born” and “second born” is doing to their personality. Mason needs to be prepared for each and every detail of his day. Will Mommy be home today? Will Daddy? Will he be going to school? Who will be there after school? Are there raisins and ‘pirate booty’ snacks in his lunch box? Will he get to go to the park today? He is the ringmaster of the Lapierre Circus. He giveth Troy toys and taketh away. He will literally look up after his lunch and say to me, “Mommy, where is my Cecil lion? I’m ready for my nappy noodle.” (nap, in Traci speak)
Troy has never had a life where he wakes up at the same time every day. Aside from the 3 days a week we have our best friend/nanny with him, he doesn’t get undivided attention or planned naps. Just 2 weeks ago we both napped at the car dealership for 3 hours while I got my tires rotated. The first few weeks of life, I was riddled with guilt and anxiety about “neglecting” my 2nd son. Now that he is older, and I see his budding personality, I realize that he is adaptable, flexible and happy doing almost anything because of his second-child-circumstances. His future significant other will thank me for creating such an easy-going, happy-go-lucky man! (This may just be how I’m justifying all those car seat naps and puff cereal.)
I feel like I am some sort of combination of a maid-chef-therapist-personal assistant, who gets 40-hour “breaks” to be a 911 dispatcher. This is my 2nd blog post in SEVEN months because getting time alone to put coherent thoughts together just doesn’t arise. I live life on a “damage control” basis. There are needs of 3.5 people that come before mine on most occasions. (Yes, PETA, the dog only counts as a half, and the cat doesn’t count at all.)
And while all this is true, I feel like life was so incomplete before Troy. It’s like it was supposed to be this way all along. Watching Mason so easily slip into being a big brother has been beautiful. Troy is nearly 7 months old, and Mason has yet to try to smack a cheek or bite a Baby-T-toe. (Then again, we don’t really have time to pay attention.) There is nothing quite like watching 2 people become siblings. The other day I was watching Troy laugh at Mason “fake falling.” Mason kept pretending to fall and hurt himself just to keep Troy laughing. I had an instant flash forward to the 2 of them at Thanksgiving circa 2047, drinking beers and laughing about the stupid stuff they did together when they were younger. (Side note, in the flashback I was still making their plates, separating the vegetables from the sweet potatoes, so I guess that never really ends?)
I think my favorite part about my second child is that I have confidence as a Mom. While I feel guilt and anxiety, it is nothing compared to being a first-time Mom. This time around, I know I am doing the best I can. I know my husband is doing the best he can. I know that we are making these happy, adorable little boys in the best way we can. There are no arguments over whether the baby should have a 3rd nap or not, or if 7:27 pm is an acceptable bed time.
I don’t feel any guilt or shame that Troy doesn’t have socks.
We are doing the best we can.
We are Veterans.
We got this.