I spent the day in the “big city” with my boys yesterday. I had planned for rain and thunderstorms instead of the beach, but it ended up being a perfect beach day – BOO! They found ways to cool off anyway.
My 2.6 year old is active, stubborn, loud, and has selective hearing. Frantically chasing him down and keeping him out of trouble feels so unfamiliar to me. Was my first really as easy and well-behaved as I remember? I don’t think he ever jumped off the sofas or snatched knives off the flatware table at Crate & Barrel when I worked there, though he used to hang with me for hours. These days he’s passive-aggressive about expressing his feelings. This is him telling me he wants to leave.
My little bruiser has been going through major developmental changes — talking, toilet training, climbing out of his crib, going to a drop-off class once a week — which come with tantrums, whining, hitting, and pinching. My emotions and behaviors in response feel new to me, intense and sometimes overwhelming. The infant days were very familiar. Breastfeeding, wiping bums, and being sleep-deprived is the same from one child to the next, I guess. But parenting in the toddler years and after, changes based, in part, on the personality of your child. Is his personality different from my oldest because he’s hard-wired to be that way? Or is he different because I’ve been home with him since he was 18 months old? Or am I the one who’s different because I’m with him all the time instead of just a few hours a day? The answer must be a little bit of everything.
Raising child #2 is not a repeat performance. Sure, you’ve got a few scenes down pat, like how to whip up mac & cheese before a picky eater’s meltdown really gets going, and getting the stroller out of the car before the kid. But your child is different, your family dynamic is different, and you, as a parent and a person, are different.
I guess we never really know what we’re doing as parents. We’re just doing the best we can.