My firstborn was a winter baby and maternity leave with her was a real drag. The days were short (which didn’t help with my postpartum moods) and it was a chore to bundle her up and take her out in the cold. I swore my next kid was going to be a summer baby and, thankfully, he was. However, just because I got the season timed "right" with my maternity leave, didn’t mean I was winning at parenting. I’m sure there are things every mom's second baby wants her to know and, if my son could have articulated his thoughts at the time, I'm sure he would have been more than happy to share his feelings with me (and I’m sure one of those feelings was that he hated being hot and sweaty all summer).
I always knew I wanted two kids, at least. My husband and I both have one sibling each, so the “family of four” scenario is most familiar to us. I thought I’d be able to anticipate my older kid’s and younger kid’s needs but the truth is, nothing prepares you for raising more than one child at a time, even if one of them is potty-trained. Neither of my kids were what I would describe as “difficult” babies. They had their moments, and annoying stages (smearing baby food on their high chair was a particularly "fun" one), but the challenge of raising two children wasn’t in navigating these moments. The hard part was knowing how to tailor my parenting approaches towards two separate little humans, whose behaviors couldn't be more different.
So if I had to guess, I’d imagine my younger son would have some pretty choice words for me, as he observed me, flustered and exhausted, toggling between him and his toddler sister. I always knew what my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter was thinking because, well, she didn’t hold back. If only infants could talk, because then I would learn some things that my second baby would want me to know.
"I Will Prove You Wrong About Everything You Thought You Knew About Parenting"
I know, I know. You learned so much with your first baby. Now you’re an expert and raising me will be a breeze. You’ll do absolutely everything right. If it weren’t for just one small detail...
"I Am Nothing Like Your First Baby"
We are unique individuals, with our own preferences and quirks. We may have the same DNA, but we have very different points of view.
My sister might have liked to sleep in the stroller, but I'm not falling asleep anywhere except the crib. So, you know, please stop comparing us."
"I'm Easier Than Your First Baby In Some Ways..."
It’s true, mom. I swear. I’m just a better sleeper, crawler and bath-taker. Remember those moments when I’m making your life easy, especially next year and around the holidays, when I become so good at walking that I break out into a run in a crowded departments store and you have a little heart attack. Sorry, Mom.
"... And Harder In Others"
However, I’m prone to skin rashes, stuffy noses and removing my diaper whenever you try to change me. Sorry, but I just gotta be me.
"I Am Not A Toy For My Older Sibling To Play With"
Please get her to stop trying to pick me up or comb my bald head or try hats on me that cover my entire face. I know you just need a minute to run to the bathroom, but I should not be left alone and within arm’s reach of this kid who wants to love me so hard.
"I Will Hate All The Foods Your First Baby Loved"
I do this mostly to make you crazy, but also because peas are the worst and to point out that my older sibling clearly has terrible taste in food. I’m not trying to make more work for you.
I just want to know you feel fulfilled as a parent by tending to your children’s individualized meal plans. You’ll thank me for this, really.
"I Will Cause My Older Sibling To Have Sleep Regression While You Sleep Train Me"
Great job getting my older sibling to sleep through the night. However, now that you’re crying it out with me, that same easy-sleeping older sibling will be waking up, too. I'd like to say it would be a total nightmare, but no one is going to actually end up sleeping long enough to have one of those.
"Unlike You, I’m Not The Least Bit Worried About You Spending Less Time With Me Than You Did With Your First Baby"
I’m a baby. I see you leave, I see you come back, it’s all good. I know you think you are not giving enough of yourself to both your children but there is only so much of you, and really, I just like our time together snuggling or making googly eyes at each other. I always seem to get fed and cleaned up and played with and read to and driven around in my stroller, so what more do I need?
"Though In A Few Years, I'll Totally Be Playing That Attention Card"
Once I catch on to the fact that my sibling gets to do homework and has the opportunity to attend dance lessons and gets to go to your job for “Bring Your Kid to Work Day,” I’ll be giving you some mad guilt trips. Just you wait. All this crying I’ve been doing when you tiptoe out of my room at bedtime? That’s just a warm-up.
"I Wish My Baby Book Wasn’t So Empty"
While we’re on the subject of neglect, my baby book is just the saddest. I realize it’s a symptom of “second child syndrome,” but you could at least pretend to remember what my first words were and jot some random ones down.
"I’ll Make You Want A Third Kid. No, Really. I Will."
I’m pretty good at what I do and as I get older, you’ll start to grow nostalgic for when I was so tiny.
Maybe you’ll look back at me and my big sister, asleep in our carseats on the ride home from a mostly tantrum-free summer vacation and think, “Yeah. We can do this. There’s room in our hearts, in our lives, in our car. A third baby would be the perfect addition to our world.”
"I’ll Also Make You Extremely Happy To Be Done Having Kids"
Then, of course, we’ll wake up from those adorable, glorious naps screaming, just as the car comes to a screeching halt and we're all forced to sit in traffic for the next two hours. You'll be out of songs and out of snacks and out of your mind. Have another kid? Are you bananas? What part of your brain, soul, and body is going unused that you can spare it to care for and raise another human being?
Lady, it’s OK to get baby fever. However, it’s also OK not to act on it, if you truly don’t think you can handle having more than two kids. I mean, I’m a lot.