Sitting around a piano at a local toddler group recently, listening to my little boy singing his heart out to ‘twinkle twinkle’ in his own very special way, a friend said to me “I bet that makes you so proud?!” ….”yes it really does” I replied. And as I quietly shed a tear it got me thinking….
Picture this, heavily pregnant with my second child and frantically completing a series of photo books to capture each year of my precious first born’s moments to date. Promising myself I will continue to do this forever more, not only for my ‘baby’ (as he will always be, despite his age or family position) but for his younger sibling too.
I held an image in my mind of bedroom shelves neatly stocked with yearly photo annuals, fully completed baby books, not to mention the year on year journals documenting highlights of each child to their 18th year. Fast forward two and a half years and I think it is fairly safe to say, the reality is fairly far removed from the dream!
As a second child myself, I get it! Life is busier, more preoccupied and rightly so! After all, you no longer have just one heart to hold within your own but two (or should I say three, best acknowledge the hubby!) Upon reflection, I often recall looking back at family albums and questioning my mum on the lack of pictures in my album versus my older sister’s album. Sorry mum! I could never have understood. I hadn’t lived it myself.
You hear it all the time “poor child, it’s second child syndrome”. Hey, I’ve even said it myself sometimes to excuse my own parental failings! Perhaps because of this loosely used term I naively made the assumption that second time around it is not as magical, a sort of ‘been there done that’ effect. After all, it is impossible to describe to someone the intense joy and pride when your first born reaches milestones. A smile, a giggle, a tooth, first steps, first words…. You photograph it, write about it, publish it (how generational times change!) and most importantly, document it in the infamous ‘baby book’.
Surely it could not possibly feel the same second time around? Let’s face it, how do you even have time? I barely found time to function between squeeze feeds, expressing, endless rocking, immense reflux and tears (from us all!) The realisation hits home, my own mother did all of the above (probably slight differences!) and still managed to have ‘said’ images printed and sealed forever in an album (and in those days it was not a simple click purchase!) That’s right, I have my very own supermum.
Somehow the time has passed by more rapidly than ever. The reality is, there are no more photo annuals, for either child. There is a bare baby book in my second born child’s bedroom cupboard. I’ve forgotten what year I’ve caught up to in the 18 year journals and have found myself resorting to my social media timelines to capture what happened ‘this year’. Memory keeping is in the form of scribbled diary notes, moments captured, teeth recorded, milestones achieved. Oh and endless unedited, unorganised pictures floating around in a cloud somewhere.
My children have taught me an incredible amount in the last few years. The discovery that time really does pass us by in the blink of an eye is an easy learn. The acceptance that, despite being a perfectionist, it is not always possibly to fulfil original expectations and flexing the goals is a necessity. This was and still is a slightly trickier lesson to learn (with reference to scribbled diary notes and dusty baby books!) Perhaps my most profound learning lay within my own parental preconceptions…..
I’d always presumed second time around would never be like the first. Never as magical, never as momentous. I’d made a naive promise that nothing would alter, memories would be documented to the same extent for both children and this would continue open-endedly. I was wrong on all counts but one, my presumption was indeed accurate, second time around is most definitely not like the first!
The reality is, it doesn’t matter how you capture the moments. They will be there in some shape or format, etched in history. What matters is that the moments are lived and I can honestly and open heartedly say, second time around, the moments and milestones are even more incredible than I could have imagined or describe.
Perhaps it is because my second was born ‘extra’ special making some of these milestones slightly harder to achieve. Perhaps it is because I know he is my last baby and I must cherish everything. Perhaps milestones are a little more magical second time around because I have ‘been there and done that’ and am more confident and relaxed to enjoy the moments.
Amongst all the unknowns, I can at least now reliably say that second child syndrome is indeed ‘a thing’, a very special ‘thing’! Second time around the moments are sweeter, the pride more immense, the joy more heartfelt. I can say for certain that this is because second time around you have double the sweetness, double the pride and double the joy. I have both my first child and second child (babies) to be forever thankful to, for giving me all the above and ‘touch wood’, beyond!