Monday, August 9, 2010

First and Third

Today during a conversation with a co-worker it struck me how DIFFERENT my attitude toward parenting has become between the first child and the third child. Granted, my gap is pretty large, 14 years between first and third and surely there is some maturing involved. But I also think it has to do with just becoming aware of how people work, even little people.

When I had my first child I lived and died by the food chart of what she could eat and when. 6 months it's carrots for a straight week and watch her carefully for signs of food allergies. (She turned orange. Well her face did. From the staining of the carrots.)

Now, my third child gets 2 days with a single food if he's lucky. Oh look, he ate peas and lived. Let's try sweet potatoes tonight.

When I had my first child I knew the milestones she was supposed to hit by heart. If she didn't hit them EXACTLY when she was supposed to I was certain something was wrong with her. Alternatively if she was early in hitting her milestone I was smug and over-confident with my parenting abilities.

Will broke his first tooth last night. My co-workers mentioned that seemed late. I just shrugged, I'm not even sure "when" babies are supposed to cut their first teeth. Or sit up. Or crawl. The only milestone I care about is potty training. I assume he's supposed to have it down before he's 5. Or has that changed?

When my first child would stain her expensive clothing (because Grandma did not buy from Wal-M*rt) I would lament that I would never get it out.

If Will stains something I take the time to assess if it's salvageable. If it's not he's still going to wear it until he outgrows it. And then I'll toss it. I don't care if I did spend $20 on that shirt.

When I had my first child I was very concerned with pictures and documenting every 3 months of her life in overprice portrait studio film.

My third child has 2 professional portraits of himself and I *think* I have hung one of them up. I hope to get his pictures taken again for his first birthday but I'm not making any promises.

When I had my first child I constantly felt like I had to compete with the other kids or other babies. If their child had done X then mine had done either X but sooner or Y which was better.

When other parents boast about their babies now I let them shine because it is a big thing to be proud of your child and to show them off. I let them have it now. I think my child shines too but I don't have to make someone elses accomplishment lesser to make my child shine brighter.

When I had my first child I feel like I accepted the criticism from other people a lot more readily and took it into my heart. Every time someone questioned my parenting or my actions or something that my child was doing I took it personally and I figured I was doing it wrong.

I don't even hear other people now when they question my actions, motives or child. They don't know what's best for my child, I do. If my baby doesn't crawl at 6 months that's okay, I'm not doing anything wrong.

Life is so much easier now with 3 than 1. I know that sounds weird but it's true and I understand it better now. Sure, my life is more chaotic, there is never a quiet night around the house. But the level of stress about what other people think my children should be doing is gone.

Maybe it's the third child, maybe it's being over 30. I'm not sure. But I sure do like it.



This post belongs in a parenting magazine. I'm serious. You NEED to submit it.

And I totally agree. TOTALLY. I am able to enjoy my third in a much deeper way now that the "clutter" of being a first-time mom is gone. I used to worry that I would feel sorry for my subsequent children because I knew I wouldn't be able to give them the (smothering) loving attention I gave my first, but now that the subsequent children are a reality, I don't feel bad for one minute. I like their mother better.

hugs to a wonderful mom,

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