Going into the birth of my second kid, I thought I was ready. I knew what I was doing. I did the baby thing once before. I knew that no two kids are the same, so I wasn’t delusional, but I was prepared. Midnight feedings, explosive diapers, hormonal shifts. I knew. But there’s more to it the second time around. There’s the older sibling. I was not prepared for that variable.
- The weight comes off much more slooowwwwllllyyyy. The weight didn’t just fall off after Binnybeans was born. I had to work at it. But it was so much easier to do that work. Just throw her in a stroller and walk for miles. Not an option now — my stoller only seats one and there’s no way she’s walking for miles. Yeah, there’s a daycare at my gym, but that costs money… twice as much now that I’m putting two kids in. Also, it’s harder to “diet.” When I cook, I’m not just cooking for me. I’m cooking for my son, daughter, and myself. And they have no interest in eating baked salmon salad or steamed vegetables… again. I’m not feeding them garbage — they get healthy, balanced meals. But a consistent diet of low-cal diet food for growing kids? Not happening. And when your baby is in the eating crayons phase, taking the time to make two dinners isn’t always an option. I do it sometimes, but not as often as I would need to in order to lose the weight faster.
- Toys your older kid outgrew become SUPER FUN again. I never knew a four-year-old could find such joy in a rattle. Or a peacock with crinkly wings. A year ago, these toys were so “for babies” that we hid them away. She didn’t even want to look at them. But now, if the baby has it, she not only wants it, she insists it’s her favorite toy in the whole wide world. Sometimes I can get them mesmerized by the same toy and they share nicely. Sometimes. The flipping puppy works well for that… for a while.
- Your older one can be a real terror. Especially if you’re going from an only-child situation to a two-children situation. Binnybeans was so used to our undivided attention. I never had to say to her, “Be quiet! The baby’s sleeping!” I never had to make her wait while I changed the baby. She rarely had to share her toys. (Her cousins came over occasionally, but most of the time her toys were hers.) We tried to prepare her for the baby. We read books and blogs. We talked about sharing. But nothing truly prepares you for the first time she rips a toy out of the baby’s hands crying that it’s hers.
- Your older one can actually be helpful. Believe it or not, Binnybeans is really helpful. After he wakes up, she sings to him while I make his bottle. She can run upstairs for a burp cloth when I forget it. She can keep an eye on him while I load the dishwasher or use the bathroom. Now, I wouldn’t leave her alone with the baby for more than a couple minutes, but she can make sure he doesn’t lick a wall outlet or eat a whole crayon. Part of a crayon? Maybe. But not a whole one.
- You’ll be surprisingly ok with crossdressing. My son wears my daughter’s old clothes. Some of it’s pretty unisex (Packers jerseys), but other times he’s wearing lace cuffed leggings and a onesie with a cute scalloped collar. I don’t put him in her old dresses, but when I’m nearing laundry day and he filled another onesie with explosive poop, I am very ok with that glittery onesie we forgot to hand down to his cousin.
- You’ll find that you’re capable of more love than you ever knew possible. I knew that heart-bursting love I felt for my daughter. That all-consuming, chest-swelling, coming-out-the-eyes-as-tears kind of love. The feeling when your baby is sleeping on your chest, softly breathing in your ear and everything stops. But get this: you’ll feel this for the second kid, too. Your love isn’t something finite, constantly being divided into smaller and smaller parts. Just because you love your first with all of your heart doesn’t mean you can’t love your second with all of your heart, too.
- Your kids will give you all the feels. All of them. Yeah, they’ll infuriate you. They’ll tire you, bore you, frustrate you. But when you see your oldest holding your youngest… oh, the good feels. One time, while I was in the bathroom, Budgie climbed into a laundry basket and couldn’t get out. So Binnybeans gave him a toy, pulled another laundry basket next to his, climbed in, and read to him. She comforted him because she loves him. I had so many feels at that moment: pride, compassion, hope, love … all of them. She loves him.
So things are different. There are two tiny people with tremendous personalities I need to account for. That also means there are two tiny people with tremendous hearts for me to love. And that’s the best part of being a mom.