Great Expectations of Motherhood
Have you ever noticed how much your parenting technique changes from your first child to your second one? With my first baby, I was overcome with fear when they were ready to release us. I remember saying to my husband, “They are going to let us leave with this baby?” because I was completely freaked out.
Who the hell would give us a baby? I could barely keep the dog alive. I was filled with the irrational fear that we’d take her home and break her. In my mind, it was like a car. The moment I drove off the lot, or in this case, left the hospital, I just knew my perfect little baby was going to depreciate and I was going to mess her up in some profound way.
She was absolutely perfect and I just assumed that she stay that way.
That first day, my husband drove home from the hospital driving about 15 miles an hour with his blinkers on as I sat in back and cried because she was so beautiful and amazing. Then we got home and I was terrified to fall asleep because what if she stopped breathing and I was not awake to notice.
I may or may not have fallen asleep with the light on, lying lengthwise across my bed holding her sweet little hand. I blame the pregnancy hormones and lack of knowledge and sleep for my behavior.
By the second baby, I was not so anal retentive and I was about 10x more exhausted. It’s called second baby syndrome.
The first time, you read every parenting book you can get your hands on. You buy all the right toys, gadgets, and recommended baby products. Everything had to be perfect. The second time, you are a lot more laid back.
My first daughter was always dressed perfectly; never a hair out of place, food was specifically selected to meet her daily requirements. She never sat in a wet diaper and she always got the exact amount of sleep to play ratio. I doted on her and we read, sang, and cuddled together. Television was limited. We took classes and made play dates.
I’d see those poor moms in the grocery store with two and three children, looking disheveled, overwhelmed, and exhausted. They were having complete meltdowns and screaming at their children like raving lunatics. I’d pity them.
Four years later, I’m the crazy mom with no mirrors in my house, screaming at the girls for asking me to buy them everything.
I felt like the world’s biggest failure. My life became a giant blur of babies, diapers, milestones, noise, and chaos. I was blissfully exhausted. But I lost my expectations and myself. The fog of mommy magic was lifted.
Girl number two would gladly subsist on chicken nuggets and milk alone, every day, for the rest of her life. Most days I fight, barter, and beg her to eat something else, anything.
Many days she has left the house in her pajamas, her hair is seldom pulled back to perfection. She’s tasted Sprite and chewed a piece of bubblegum. I think she’s even been outside without sunscreen once or twice.
Did your expectations of motherhood change with subsequent children?
Photo Source: Robert Whitehead