When I had my first daughter, I was so anxious and worried all the time. I didn’t have the confidence as a mother yet, and focused a lot of energy on getting her into a routine. I stressed whether I was doing it “right,” and each day felt like such a blur. Now with my second just two weeks old, I’m already realizing how different it is. She’s teaching me a lot!
I don’t stress nursing. With my first, I left the hospital with a recommended “feeding chart” to follow and stressed when and how long I nursed each time. I pumped and questioned the timing of allowing others to feed her a bottle. This time, I don’t write anything down, and almost cried when she wouldn’t take a bottle from my husband. There is no chart, no timing, no looking at the clock; which equals no stress. Whenever she’s awake, I offer the boob. It’s that simple. And if I am away, I am usually not gone for long. If she doesn’t take a bottle, I know she won’t starve.
I am in no hurry. She sleeps in our room and I am in no rush to move her down the hall to her crib. I savor the cuddles knowing just how quickly they flee, as I now crave the same affection from my toddler who is in such a hurry to explore and grow up.
My anxiety is cut in half. When I was expecting our second, I thought for sure my anxiety and worry would double. Two kids equals twice as much responsibility, which means twice as much that can go wrong, right? Well, quite the opposite has occurred. My anxiety has been divided! I simply can’t be there for both girls at the same time, and I also understand now just how tough these kiddos are crafted. While I do my best to keep them both safe, sometimes I just close my eyes and pray (as my daredevil toddler climbs on something with a sneakish grin yet again) knowing my hands are just too full with a newborn and that I can’t possibly be in two places at once.
I stare. A lot. I smell her hair and touch her feet and kiss her cheeks and lips. I savor our newborn moments together knowing I won’t be her one and only forever.
I don’t stress germs. With my first, we waited to leave the house for a while. My second has already been to a babyshower, a few restaurants, and the hair salon when I even forgot her diaper bag. Besides, my dirty toddler has her hands down her throat and in her eyes and nose throughout the day anyway. Thank God for the defenses of breast milk!
I don’t overdo her attire. I don’t dress her in fancy outfits, socks or hair bows. She wears a onesie. Everyday. Easy, comfortable, and we are all out the door faster.
I feel less guilt. With my first, it took me close to six months to get back to working out, plan a date night, and even longer to have a ladies night out. (Partially due to sleep deprivation, but mainly due to guilt). This time around, I’m already scheduling time each week for myself away from her. I know I’m a better wife and mother when I make my needs a priority.
I keep it simple. I know she is either tired, hungry, or both. As soon as she wakes, I feed her, and within about an hour she is swaddled tight and back down for a nap. I don’t question using a pacifier, white noise, a carrier or swing. I use anything and everything.
I hired help. I don’t pretend, hide, or take for granted the fact that we have a sitter. It took me 7 months before I hired part time help with my first, (just short of me ripping my eyes out and my marriage imploding). Now, I use her as much as we need and I don’t bat an eye about it. I like knowing I have someone to rely on, that will follow my directions, and is paid to do so. Plus, there is no extra baggage that can sometimes accompany allowing a friend or family member to “help out.” No cancellations, no coming late or leaving early, no feeding my kid random crap, no cell phone use and no side agenda. Plus, it’s one more person that can love on my children and offer up new activities and qualities. It’s a win-win.
I am a better mother. I gave my first, my everything. I did all I could do to make sure she was happy, entertained, and catered to. I didn’t think there was necessarily anything wrong with that at the time, until I reflect back now and realize I was losing a lot of myself in the process. I often felt jealous that my husband had a job to go to and I worried as to why motherhood wasn’t fulfilling me. This time, I am grateful I have more balance. I love being a mom, but know that being a mom isn’t the only thing I am. I take pride in being a wife and in working on my marriage daily, am giddy about my work as a writer and speaker, and look forward to starting my next semester back in school. When I am pursuing goals aside from my role as a mother, it in turn allows me to be a better mother; specifically a more grateful one.