I’ve written before about how when you have multiple children you just can’t care as much anymore. A lot of things slide. A looooot of things slide. Very, very far down. Like, into the wood chips down. Here is an incredibly incomplete list of how things change a wee bit by the time you get to kid number three.
- Toys. My firstborn was either really lucky or kinda got screwed with our new parent baby toys. He had wooden everything – wooden rattles, wooden blocks, wooden stacking cups. No BPA anything. Everything lovely and simple. Whenever he saw a plastic toy that made noise he went totally bananas – now THIS is what toys are all about. My baby is also getting screwed though, because he just gets whatever hand-me-downs we held onto and my older kids’ toys (which are immediately and indignantly yanked away from him by his siblings). Occasionally I will buy him a new toy that I can eventually use – for instance, for Christmas he got a spatula and a mini-whisk.
- Walking. My firstborn was a late walker. We stood him up at every opportunity; bribed him to walk toward us with all forms of motivations (“Look! Cheerio!”); bought a (wooden of course) cart that he could push around. My third is now 12 months old with no desire to walk yet. That has been carefully cultivated by us. We provide no motivation. We may or may not gently push him down when he tries.
- Breastfeeding. I made one vow to myself when my husband and I made the decision to have another child. I will not stress out about breastfeeding. There is a lot of pressure to breastfeed, and Portland in particular has a very vocal community in favor of it. I totally understand and agree that breast is best. However when my first turned 8 months, he just lost all interest. He bit nearly every time he nursed, at unpredictable intervals so I was never sure when it was coming. I tried every tip I received from friends, Dr. Google, and even strangers. Finally when he was about nine months old, he bit me (again), I put him on the floor and ignored him as I was told by someone to do. He was crying. I was crying. And I realized – this is no longer mutually beneficial! I pumped for a while after that but didn’t make it to a year. With my second and third, I decided to just do it until it no longer worked. For my daughter, that happened just after 12 months. For my baby, we’re still going. But no pressure this time.
- Food. My firstborn enjoyed a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Actually, same with my baby. Bananas, veggie booty and rice cakes – that totally counts, right? On the plus side, my baby has been exposed to a huge variety of foods because I am too lazy to make baby food for him, so he just eats whatever everyone else is eating. I mean, I do that purposely. To expose him to different flavors and textures.
- Books. By this age, my firstborn could basically recite Pat the Bunny. He knew all the activities, loved to smell the flowers, could totally find Paul every time from behind that little blue cloth. When we try to read with my baby, he thinks it’s a game to shut the book. So every story we read to him is “Here are Paul and… The End!” This one we will keep working on, though.
- Perceived Dangers. With my first, no toys smaller than a fist were allowed in the house. When outside, I was constantly pulling twigs, leaves and other yard debris out of his hands before they could make it to his mouth. While I do try to keep my baby away from the marbles, I’ve given up on the outside battle. Nothing wrong with some sand and leaves every now and then to clean out the digestive system.
- Clothes. Pretty much everything was new with my first. He got three-piece outfits, adorable little shoes, hand-knit sweaters, the works. My baby is now the third in the line of hand-me-downs. Almost everything has a suspicious yellowish-brown spot on the back.
- Documentation. My firstborn’s life was heavily, heavily documented. I actually still remember the first day I didn’t take a picture of him. He was 14 weeks old. I took so many photos of him we had two photo albums his first year. I can tell you exactly when he hit every large milestone, and every small. Now I cannot imagine when I’m going to find the time to make a photo album for 2014, despite there being maybe a tenth of the photos that there were the year my first was born. And I’ve actually lost track of what the milestones are. I know talking is one.
- The Ultimate Goal. For my first, my ultimate goal was simple: Raise a kind, funny, smart, attractive, sensitive, loving boy who is true to himself and is able to go out in the world and make a difference. For my third: Don’t kill him.
- Confidence. Parenting for the first time is flat-out scary. You are suddenly responsible for this little human you created. I was very aware with my first that I didn’t know how to do that. I’m still aware of that. But I’m comfortable with that knowledge, and feel confident that I’m doing a good job anyway. Most of the time.
On the bright side, our baby is gonna be one hell of a resilient kid. Gooooo parenting!