With your first child, you are always eagerly awaiting every milestone. At least that was how it was with Lily. When will she crawl? When will she walk? When can we bake cookies together? When can we go tobogganing together? Etc. We were always eager for the next step forward, looking forward to all the things we could do "when only she will...".
With Finn, the story is very different. Now, I bemoan that he's not my little newborn anymore - maybe because I know it might be my last time having a baby (we're still on the fence with that), but also because I already have another that has "done the milestones". I am grateful for every day he sits and doesn't crawl, because it makes our day much easier if I can park him somewhere and he's condemned to stay there (as mean as that sounds).
But, having a toddler, it is also much easier with the second one to really appreciate the baby years. I love both of my kids equally (not every day, but in general). While Lily is incredibly cute with her garbled speech and her bossy tyrant-like tendencies, Finn is just unobjectively cute. There isn't much personality or attitude yet, but he's squishy and big enough to smile, laugh, eat, grab, play, etc. And seeing a tiny person doing all these things - with some shaky attempts - is just beyond adorable.
Comparing (and I don't like to compare them, but it involuntarily happens), the baby years are so much simpler than the toddler years. While it's such great fun when your toddler tells you to be quiet and just watch her do it (the confidence, the cheek!), it's also constant negotiating, telling off, bargaining and frustration on both ends. Allowing independence is important, but also requires constant supervision and just the right amount of help and taking a step back.
On the weekends when my husband is home, I get to spend one-on-one time with Finn. We can lie down to breastfeed and to put him down for his naps - and I love it. Now, I wonder what I did when Lily was a baby. You've got so much time on your hands. I would spend so much time in bed if Finn was my only baby. And I did with Lily, but I didn't appreciate it at the time as much as I now think I should have. There was always the waiting for the milestone, while now, knowing he will become a bossy toddler within the blink of an eye, I can't get enough of our bed-breastfeeding-cuddles.
However, there is one thing I still have to mention. Motherhood with Finn is so much easier - simply because he is the second one. While Lily made me a mother, Finn made me a confident mother. If he was my firstborn, I'd still not be able to appreciate it, because he'd be my firstborn. I'd be stressing about whether I'm doing enough, when, how and where he's going to develop (I'm still doing that sometimes, but it's more like an annoying background noise instead of a scream in the middle of the night).
"If only I could have had the confidence I had with my second-born when I had my firstborn", a dear friend of mine recently lamented. But that's the catch, isn't it? You need this first pancake where you don't know whether the pan is too hot, the batter to thick or thin, to then make the rest confidently. And while Lily was showered with attention, being the firstborn, I feel she also has to pay the bigger price in terms of having a relaxed mum. She got a lot more heat from my insecurities than he will ever get. And imagine how much cooler I'd be with that third-born (we might find out, or we might not).
The baby years are often unfairly called "the boring years", but I think that's undeserving. Every age has its ups and downs, but I must say that the baby years have plenty more ups than downs (I'm still not so sure about the toddler years, as cute as they are...). I also have to add, of course, that Finn is a true delight. He is low maintenance, happy 90% of the time and an easy sleeper. If he were a cry baby, I'd think very differently, perhaps, but as for us and now, I'm appreciating his unequivocal cuteness and gratefully accept every day that he's my little bundle of joy and every day where I am still God in his perception and just my presence is enough to make everything right again :-)
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