Second verse

Having a second child can suck, no?

I mean, let's all assume the disclaimer that we love our children and would give our lives for them, and are thrilled to have been able to have a first child and a second and more if we have them, and we wouldn't trade them for $50 billion or all the uninterrupted reading time in the world. And to all those of you still in the struggle to have your second (or first, or third, or fourth, or wherever you're stuck) child, we wish there was a way we could make it all happen painlessly and easily and for free and with no emotional stress for you and RIGHT NOW. So no one here is being ungrateful, and we wanted this child.


It's hard. The dividing of the energy and awareness. The two conflicting needs. The knowing what's coming next and just wishing you could either fast-forward to it or through it. The insecurity of having felt like you were finally figuring out how to parent #1 and then #2 comes along and is an Entirely Different Person and you're, in a lot of ways, at square one all over again.

And you just feel bone-tired all the time, and cranky, and incompetent. It's like being in a snowglobe that's just been shaken violently.

I'm hoping that those of us who've survived the first year of having more than one child can give some support and perspective to those of you still in it. I'll start:

Consistency is for suckers. Your second child is not your first child, and the sooner you can connect with that and make decisions based on that, the better it will be for everyone. My first child was a Tension Increaser, so I couldn't let him cry for even 30 seconds or he'd escalate for hours and never fall asleep. My second child needed to cry to release enough tension to fall asleep. I struggled with letting him cry for weeks before I gave in to letting him create his own white noise, and then sleep became so much easier for all of us. If I'd really connected with the idea that they could be so different, I'd have saved a lot of struggle. Giving each of your kids what they *need* is good parenting. As long as you're not actually favoring one over the other, you don't have to make things equal or do things the same way you did with your first.

This isn't the rest of your life. Wow. I can still remember waking up in the morning and thinking, "How am I going to do this for the rest of my life??" Well, it's not. Even though the days all seem the same right now, at a certain point you'll find yourself being annoyed that your kids can't agree on which DVR'd episode of Phineas & Ferb to watch together. And that will, honestly, be the worst thing that happens to you in a four-hour stretch. There's light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes kids are jerks. Yes, the precious, rainbow-pooping lights of your life, but jerks nonetheless. Kids are little teeny people, and people all act like jerks, intentionally or not, every once in awhile. It's ok to be in touch with the fact that your kid's not doing you any favors. And, I'd argue, it's really really ok to let kids who are old enough to process it know when they've hurt your feelings.

You're not the only one. Remember when you had your first kid, and people kept saying things like "Treasure these precious moments" and you felt like a horrible monster because it was so hard, and then you met just one person who was willing to say "Of course I love my baby but this is way worse than I thought it would be"? Well, yeah. This was way worse than I thought it would be. (But then it got way better.)

FWIW, I felt like things got sharply better when my younger one was about 11 months old.

Now, anyone else out there who feels like they're mostly on the other side of the shock of having a sibling for your first one? What do you have for parents still in the trenches? At what point did it get better?