Second time around

Having two children, both girls, borne of the same parents, grown in the same womb and watered in the same garden I am acutely aware of how different a parent to each of them I am.

Naturally, i love each of my children the same, but differently. I also take equal turns to dislike them fairly too. Depending on who is being a rat bag and being completely unreasonable which in our house works on a rotation basis. At this present moment the two year old is proving particularly tiresome with her constant emotional instability that only two year olds have. They don’t call it the terrible two’s for nothing, nor the year of the three-nager or well, i’m not sure what the four year olds nonsense is called yet; i’m only a few weeks into that stage and the jury is still out.

The Mother i was first time around is definitely not the Mother i am second time around. Not all better, not all worse, just again different and clearly a determining factor when considering the role birth order has on our personalities. I am one of three. The middle one as it happens. The child that is statistically most likely to be troubled vying for their place in the family pecking order, leaving the nest before the others, but one who is most likely to develop better empathic social skills through the ability to be flexible. Only one of those statements are true in my case so far and i’ll leave you to ponder which one that is, but there is a lot that can be said for the child who is second born and a middle child at that. I keep a lot of this to the forefront of my mind when i think of my second child who is incidentally our youngest.

As i said previously she is currently in the phase of being a troublesome two year old who just like every other child in this Country,  like her older Sister before her, received a letter from our Health Visitor (those who are designated responsibility by the State for overseeing progress and well being of a child) offering my daughter an appointment for her two year review. This generic review is to assess her development taking in her speech, fine and gross motor skills and whether she is developing in line with normal parameters, or what is deemed normal at this age.  I opened the letter, knew what it was all about having been through it with my first daughter and decided i couldn’t be bothered to make an appointment and drag us all there only to be told what i already knew, that everything was indeed progressing normally with my daughter. There is no duty to attend this review, its purely should you wish to do so.

I am quietly confident my youngest daughter, not having had the obsessive anxious parent peering into her crib every two minutes checking for a pulse has benefitted enormously from this. She is currently 6 months ahead in terms of development in comparison to her older sister, a typical case in point of a second child. Learning from what is happening around her and just getting on with it.

I threw the letter away and got on with other things. Until i received a phone call from the Health Visitor asking if my daughter still lived at this address ? “Urm, i think so” i laughed into the telephone. “Unless she’s moved out and not told me”. The voice at the end of the line tittered. I don’t think she appreciated my humour. “It’s just you declined the two year health check we offer and wanted to ensure there were no problems and that we had the right address for your daughter”.

Then the guilt set in. I wouldn’t have done that for Child Number One. Infact i often rang chasing these appointments so keen was i to be reassured my child was normal and hitting the developmental milestones. So i did what I do best in these circumstances in which i regret my decision, i lied to cover my tracks. “I am so sorry, i completely forgot to ring and make an appointment. Thank you so much for reminding me, can i please make an appointment now?”.

So i did and we went and i found out we actually got a lot out of the process. It is always extra special to me when i get to have one on one time with either of my daughters, so conscious am i of nurturing them as individuals as it so rarely happens. Whilst we waited for our Health Visitor we cuddled, laughed and chatted as we ate a chocolate lolly i brought along. The Health Visitor clearly had a winning inveterate formula to assessing small children.

On the floor were a number of age related toys carefully chosen to promote interaction and conversation. My daughter was asked to build a tower with small coloured blocks, complete a simple puzzle and asked to try and identify different farm yard animals whilst I vetted questions about her diet, sleeping and toilet habits. 

Having two young children i am often guilty of overlooking the small steps they make that are actually a big deal. For me being with my girls all day every day i miss the subtle changes in their growth. Until I find myself wondering why their fringe is suddenly getting in their eyes or their jeans won’t do up and are too short and look like they’ve had a falling out with their ankles. 

It’s the same with their speech, gross motor skills and understanding of instructions and the world around them. I take it for granted what they can and can’t do. Conscious to not be the over bearing Mother prompting her child for the right results from the wings, i sat quietly next to my daughter on the thread bare carpet offering quiet reassurance.  I found myself looking at my daughter through different eyes, seeing her as the Health Visitor was, looking at what she has mastered in such a short time. Something that rarely gets to happen.

I may have been here before, passing these milestones through overly anxious eyes but second time around that has left me because that day i devoured the pleasure in it all. The wonders of all that has happened to my little girl to reach this point and all the wonders that i knew, through her older a Sister, were yet to come. That is the true beauty of second time around; being a little less frightened and if you can carve out the time juggling two, getting to enjoy it more.

She is generally a far more easy going child than her sister. Generally, just not right now. How much of that is Nature versus Nuture i never will know for sure, but there has to be a huge advantage by not having an anxious, scared parent handle you. She is more fearless, she is more spontaneous,  mischievous in her endeavours, she sleeps better and she wants to be more independent – ‘own’ is her favourite word right now (meaning I’ll do it all on my own, as modelled from her big Sister).  All probably as a result of her having to share her mothers diluted attention and neurosis . She might not get the one on one care her elder sister had but for all the reasons i’ve just noted she’s probably better off for it. I can enjoy her more without fear of the unknown, second time around.


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