After the birth of my first child, I worried that I would never be able to love anyone in the entire world as much as her again.
Shortly after becoming pregnant for the second time, I started having pregnancy induced panic attacks (whether from the copious amounts of hormones or the equally large quantities of Cheetos), worrying that I will never love this second baby as much as my first.
To be honest, I am an extremely neurotic mother from the start. I go to bed worrying about my daughter sleeping in the other room. I double check the volume of the baby monitor with as much obsessive proficiency as Howard Hughes, and dream up “worst case scenarios” and preventative parenting strategies as if directly related to Monk.
It goes without saying that most first time mothers truly believe they will never have enough room in their hearts to love an additional child. But thenâ€¦that next baby is born, and you realize we have double the amount of compulsive worry, freakish tendencies and neurotic aptitude to spread around!
What I did not realize, however, is how truly different each child can be. It’s true when they say “we love different children in different ways”, because my eldest (Kinley) and youngest (Follin) are so completely opposite, I sometimes wonder if a genetic test might be in order. For every instance of brilliant intensity, extreme feeling, and theatrical flair Kinley portrays in her life, Follin takes the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere approach”. In a sense, Kinley is like a small drag queen (but perhaps even more dramatic): she loves the likes of Barbara, strategically plans her future union to Prince Charming or Justin Bieber (whichever comes first), and has an innate preference for glitter eyeliner. Meanwhile, Follin looks at walking as an option for babies not cute enough to negotiate otherwise.
I spent so much time worrying about how I would love both my children equally; I never realized that they are the ones who choose the way we love in our relationship. Although Kinley never held still long enough for a hug (let alone anything denoted as a â€œsnuggleâ€), she is constantly verbalizing how much she loves me (usually via musical numbers with tap shoes and “jazz hands”). But my second child has taught me to slow down. She is like a teddy bear: always in your arms, demands to be cuddled, and is constantly testing her adorable powers on innocent victims. While her older sister is paranoid over germs, dirt, or the unaltered hairstyles on The Fresh Beat Band, Follin will smile up at me with her chubby face, giggle…and wipe her snotty nose all over my arm. (You’re cute kid, but you’re not that cute.)
Raising children is messy (snotty noses or not), and we often have absolutely zero control over what happens in life, or what personalities our kids have at birth. Loving our children in different ways doesn’t mean loving them less…it simply means rising to the challenge of loving them for who they are and how they really view the world.
And with every day that my girls grow older, I realize that there is no point in worrying about the lessons Iâ€™m teaching them constantly… if I canâ€™t sit back, listen and learn from who they are in return. There is no amount of worrying that is going to keep my girls from making mistakes. No “How To” book or “To Do” list that is going to stop them from pushing buttons on the microwave, or attempting to climb a tree, or calling China on my cell phone when I’m not looking.
Yes, my first child taught me to look both ways when we cross the street, but my second helped me think, “What’s the rush anyways?” As long as we have a hand to hold as we bridge that road or go through life, who cares if we get there on time…
And when it comes to how many little hands I’m holding?
The more the merrier.
Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She talks about Mealtime Makeovers on Monday, “Speedy Advice With Makeover Momma” On Wednesday, and has a weekly column on Friday: “Getting Friendly With Makeover Momma.” If you would like to ask questions, submit concerns or simply chat: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.