Wednesday, September 3, 2014

03.9.2014 - Same Same...but different

When you have a baby, there are three general things you get "told" when you interact with others:
-Who they look like
-How much hair they have
-What they seem to want (because you didn't actually know)

I find this amusing simply because how has it not occurred to anyone that you, the primary caregiver would know these things, considering you spend every waking (and unconscious) second with this child? Does the amount of hair they have actually have an impact on their future 401k? Were you entirely unaware of them being tired, hungry or just thrilled to have their toes in their mouth?

I'm not mentioning this because I'm particularly pissy at anyone or anything. It just makes me laugh, s'all. I never know if it's just like talking about the weather, or if people genuinely think I need to hash out these pressing concerns. Either way, what never seems to come up, and is a totally huge recent revelation on my part, is the fact that I just didn't give credit to my second child being nothing like my first.

It's not as stupid as it sounds. I'm realising, or at least feeling, that the reason we have more than one child is because we worked out the first one. No joke. Desires towards big families aside, I think it's safe to generalise that most people, once they've had a kid tend to want a sibling for them. I honestly believe you only consider that notion once you've got the first one "working" - eating, sleeping, teething, crawling, etc. Once they are in verb form, you begin to understand that you might be physically and emotionally capable of doing this all over again with another creature that you can love just as much. That in itself is enormous. And wonderful. And misleading.

You embark on the journey again. You start trying, see how long that lasts, and you get to wave around another pee-covered stick in elation. And then all the pregnancy stuff kicks in so much quicker than last time. Your body already knows what to do, plus you notice less because you're running after a maniacal toddler (that's not knocking my son - that's just calling a spade a spade.) And then, with decidedly less pomp and circumstance and definitively more cartoons and soggy cheerios, a new, beautiful soul comes into the world, and you are so much more confident, so much calmer, so definitely in for the shock of your life. Because this new little person is their own, and no matter how much you think you know what to expect, you just don't.

Now, perhaps my experience is unique because it was a girl this time, because she was born at a different time of year, or because we moved countries and I wasn't as "strict" with routine considering the circumstances. Maybe. But I was convinced that #2 would certainly be a piece of cake because I had #1 in full working order by the time he was four months old - sleeping through the night, eating like an olympic champion, crapping on a schedule I could set my watch to. No worries. Thing is though, my daughter is not my son, nor should I ever have "expected" her to be anything like him. They aren't twins; they're siblings. And even if they had shared the womb at the same time, they would still be two different people, fully deserving of respect, attention and appreciation in their own right, in their own way.

It has, unfortunately, taken me this long to sit down and acknowledge that fully, and realising that whatever parenting failures I have been feeling throughout her infancy aren't necessarily failures but in fact just her rules for how she wants to be treated. I owe it to her to sit up and listen, and I need to give myself a little more credit for simply being human. As well, what I see this time around is completely different than the first time. There are plenty of things that she does better than her older brother, both when he was her age and even now (like, being quiet. Or eating broccoli. Or not stepping on my broken toe) so its incumbent upon me to notice that, to not compare but rather respect and celebrate both of my kids as the individuals they are.

It's a tricky job, this parenting gig, and its nuances are far more complex than her having my nose or the way he walks exactly his father.  Once we begin to respect those differences and those things we don't know, rather than harp on the similarities and what we think we do, I feel like we begin to give everyone the fair chance they deserve.

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