Having a Second Child? It's Easier (and Harder) Than You Might Think

Family Matters on 01.13.12
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Photo: Jenni Grover

As soon as we started telling people we were having a second child, the advice started rolling in.

"Be prepared to get nothing done."
"You thought one child was difficult? You just wait."

"Oh, don't worry. The second one is a breeze compared to the first."
"A second child? Are you crazy?"
"A second child? It's the best thing we ever did."

Opinions seemed to split down the middle regarding the difficulty of it all. And I am now realising why - they were all right. It's every bit as hard as we were warned, and yet in many ways it is simplicity itself compared to the somewhat terrifying experience of first-time parenthood.

Relax. It's Just a Baby.

As Monica argued in her post on 5 reasons to have a second child, there are many joys in expanding your family. And as we've already gone through it all once, for us there's definitely been less stress and neurosis the second time around.

While we kept checking on Lilia, our first, every two minutes if she was even a little quiet, now that Adeline has been born, I must admit we are more relaxed. If she's not crying, we're happy. Sure, we'll check on her every once and a while - but the mantra of the second-time-around parent seems to be "no news is good news" when it comes to crying.

Understanding the Basics

Similarly, I've gotten over my poop-o-phobia and we're old hands at the practicalities of changing diapers; squeezing twitching limbs into onesies; or perfecting that acrobatic routine of bouncing the baby, catching a falling pacifier and chugging your (luke-warm!) coffee all at the same time. Like most things in life, practice doesn't exactly make perfect - but it does reduce the level of incompetence.

Complexity Squared

But make no mistake about it- having two kids is hard work! Having tried and failed to maintain a garden with one child, I am realising quite how wise we were to take a break from gardening (and just about everything else) to focus on keeping the Grover-show on the road. From trying to get two kids dressed and ready to run an errand; to juggling toddler tantrums, diaper changes and nursing/feeding duties, there is an order of magnitude in the complexity of parenthood 2.0 that I hadn't quite anticipated. But it's a complexity that I can deal with. Because we may not be sure if and how we're going to get everyone dressed, fed and out the door on time. But we learned the first time around that it's not the end of the world if we don't. The world will wait. We've got parenting to do.

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