I've always been a pretty laid-back mom, the kind who picks the pacifier up off the floor, pops it in her own mouth for a second and then hands it back to the baby. My sister-in-law once joked that I was so laid back with my first child that I acted like he was my third. So when we had a second child, I figured that life (and I) would pretty much be the same as with the first one. Surprisingly, the experience is quite different with the two kids, but not in the way I would have expected.
James was my first. With him, I did all of the obligatory reading throughout my pregnancy, anticipating the joy of watching him flourish. But when I was actually in the middle of watching him develop I felt like I was punching tickets all the time. "Oh, James is now eating rice cereal... check. James is now standing up on his own...check." From my research I knew what the rough order of progression was in terms of his development and I fixated more on what was going to come next than on enjoying what was presently happening.
I compared his development to that of all my friends' children, anxious that he wouldn't reach the next critical milestone on time. I focused so much on punching his ticket that I wasn't noticing how he was starting to spread his wings as a person.
Then came baby number two, sweet little Lauren, and my focus inexplicably changed. With James I was always impatient for him to talk or walk, but with Lauren I know she'll get there eventually and on her own timetable. I know what a crawling infant is like now and I know how tiring a toddler can be.
I don't look at the toddler snacks in the store anymore wondering just when she'll be able to eat them without gagging. Instead, I am happy to feed her as much baby food as she wants, my own delight rivaling hers when she finds a new flavor she particularly enjoys. The baby milestone books are gathering dust under our bed now and I haven't surfed over to BabyCenter in ages. Instead, I am enjoying the here and now and I relish seeing this amazing world through Lauren's new eyes. I don't want her baby days to end anytime soon, we are having too much fun.
So while in some ways I still act like I am on my third child (Lauren gets her bottles cold from the fridge and the "five-second" rule is more like a "10-minute" rule at our house), I find myself overwhelmed with the wonder of Lauren's development. Instead of worrying when she will reach the next step, I hope for just a little more time with her as a baby.
Oddly enough, Lauren was ahead of all her major milestones at her last doctor's visit. Hmmmm... I wonder if there's a correlation.
Leslie lives in northern Virginia with her husband, toddler son and infant daughter.