Some new parents are surprised when I tell them that it’s much easier to adjust to a second child than it is to adjust to the first once. It’s hard to underestimate how much of that new-parent panic is a result of sheer inexperience. But once you’ve had a kid for a couple of years, going back to baby care is surprisingly easy. You have to be a parent to a two-year-old, which means you have to teach them manners, discipline them, get them to eat their dinner, and explain why they shouldn’t headbutt people. With an infant, you mostly just need to feed them and clean up their rear ends.
But The Little One is now not quite as little as he once was, and he’s starting those early stages of mobility. He’ll get on all fours in pursuit of a toy (though he seems a little panicked when he realizes his position). He’ll roll and flop all over the room if we’re not careful. It’s tempting to want to plunk him in his exersaucer when we need to cook dinner or something, but he increasingly looks on this as something of a prison. The task is now not simply to parent one child and keep the other one alive, but to actually be a parent all the time.
I know that last week I waxed poetic about the joys of parenting, but this is a stage that still frightens me a little. So far we’ve been able to conduct some time to ourselves on the side. We like to give each other one night a week out of the house away from everyone else. But as I see The Little One rolling all over the place chasing after his brother’s toys, I can see that such personal times will increasingly become a luxury. It’s with just a touch of sadness that I realize it is no longer us and the kids, but the kids and their parents.
I know many young parents resent their kids for just such a reason, but that’s not the case here at all. We planned on both boys, and knew (at least vaguely) what we were getting into. But it really is true that it changes everything. And when you get to a point where you get comfortable with how things are, they shift again. As I’ve said more than once, watching them grow up is a special treat. But it’s not one without its sacrifices.