Thursday, June 11, 2015

Going from one child to two... some emotional observations after six weeks.

I have been a mom of two for a little more than six weeks now.  It has been an adjustment for our family, but for me, it has been a deeply satisfying and alarmingly positive one. I had read a lot of stories about how much harder it was to have a second child and was afraid that expanding our family would leave me with lots of unanticipated negative feelings.  It hasn't.  I'm sure that my daughter's easygoing infant personality and temperament are a major factor (she goes 6-7 hour stretches at night between nursings most nights; my son wasn't going that long until at least 8 or 9 months and still waking twice a night to feed at 18 months).  I love me some sleep.  But it is more than that.

Here are some reflections after six weeks of going from three people to four (and mothering a daughter, specifically):
  • I fell back in love with my husband.  I think I did this after J was born, but we were too sleep deprived to enjoy it and fought over stupid stuff for those first six months.  With my daughter, it is an even more powerful feeling.  I don't think I've ever been more appreciative of what Min Gi brings to our family--energy, enthusiasm, discipline in the areas I lack them and relaxed adventurousness in the areas I am disciplined.  Our children are growing up in a rich, loving, healthy, learning environment in large part due to his efforts as a full-time Dad.  I continue to be amazed by how much I love him and how glad I am he is my family.
  • The emotional highs I get from witnessing the positive interactions of my son and daughter were a completely unexpected delight.  After the high highs of parenting I learned after having my son, I thought that was it.  I was wrong--so wonderfully wrong.  Nothing sweeter than listening to J "teach" H how to throw a ball or read her one of his books.  The feeling is just incomparable.
  • There is a settled completeness with two children I never felt with just J.  I don't know how to explain this well, but here is my attempt:  With J, Min Gi, and I, our family felt like a couple with a kid.  What I mean by this is that I felt like a parent, but that my world "shouldn't" be absorbed with children.  I didn't think it was good for J to think that he was our entire world or for our marriage to only be centered around our role as parents, but I didn't have time or energy to pursue many outside hobbies, so I mostly just thought I was always doing a bad job.  I was too focused on our son or I was too focused on selfish pursuits.  With a second child, I now have "children," and it seems more ok to pull back from adult things to focus on our family.  Even though I could have let go of this "should" while I had J (and should have--ha!  Now I'm "should"ing myself!), I didn't.  It is easier with two.  I feel more balance, more complete in my family life.  And, ironically, it frees up all that time I used to spend "worrying" to actually pursue my reading and writing and have meaningful adult conversations with my husband... So...
  • It hurts more than I can ever explain to know that H and my dad will never know each other.  I cannot fix this except by sharing my stories of him with my children.  And I do.  I do...
  • The perspective I have as a mom is much more sane the second time around.  Sleeplessness?  Baby acne?  Can't hold up her head?  Difficult latch?  This, too, shall pass.  So much easier knowing that on an emotional level, not just an intellectual one.  It's actually making it easier to weather J's difficult stages because parenting him for the last three years taught me that about parenting H.  By logical extension...
  • Having a daughter is both different and the same.  It is different because I have found myself recommitting to my feminist ideals for an entirely new reason--I need her to have a world in which she is valued for who she is as a whole person.  I find comments about her "girl" status and J's "boy" status to grate more than they used to.  
  • On the other hand, parenting a daughter is the same as parenting a son for the most part.  People are individuals; so are infants and children.  We can ascribe our societal gendered notions on them if we like, but H acts no more like a "girl" and J no more like a "boy" than the portions of their personalities so far that intersect with our preconceived notions.  J likes trains, but he is also emotionally sensitive.  H has long, pretty hair for an infant, but she also makes wicked poop faces.  They are who they are.  I don't really see aspects of their personalities coming from their gender.
And that's all I have time for right now.

I'm loving this time.  I feel healthy and balanced, even with emotional highs and lows.  More when I can...

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