That Moment I Knew I Was A Second-Time Parent

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How many words does she say?” the pediatrician asked at Brynna’s 18-month check-up.

I told her.

Wow, that’s way above average!” she exclaimed.

And in that moment, I realized that I was truly a second-time parent.

For two reasons, actually:

1)  She was over 19 months old at her 18-month checkup because I forgot to schedule it earlier.  My firstborn’s appointments were usually scheduled on time to the day.

2)  When she told me my daughter’s verbal skills were impressive, I couldn’t have cared less.  In fact, for a moment I wondered if she just says that to all parents to make them feel good about themselves.

With Conlan, I would treasure any teeny little comment about my son’s abilities/personality/adorableness.  Whether a comment by a friend, doctor, stranger…I’d take that little nugget and put in in the pocket of my heart and carry it around with me and take it out and look at it like a badge of exceptional parenting for me, and a mark of exceptional personhood for my boy.

And make no mistake, he is exceptional.

But I don’t spend as much time dwelling on those things anymore.  I find myself just taking those small moments for what they are – sweet, special, passing moments – and not trying to collect them and put together a bigger picture of who my child will become.  They will get there soon enough.

This may or may not be the face of a genius.
This may or may not be the face of a genius.

Like right now my daughter is in that phase where it’s fun to take things out of the box…put things in the box…take things out of the box…put things in the box…{you’re bright, you get the idea}.  When my son went through that phase I remember thinking “Oh my gosh, he loves cleaning up!  He will have the cleanest room of any child ever born!”

That phase ended quickly and was replaced with the phase where everything comes out of the box…and stays out of the box.  {Side note:  Please don’t show up at our house unannounced.}

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I wanted my son to hit all the developmental milestones as early as possible {he didn’t}.  And then my daughter came, and I tried to keep her in the baby phase as long as I could.  In fact, I may or may not have knocked her over a couple of times so she wouldn’t get the hang of walking.

Don’t judge.

Oh, how times have changed in my world of parenting.

It's not unhealthy for toddlers if it's decaf, right?
It’s not unhealthy for toddlers if it’s decaf, right?

I am unbelievably proud of my son, and believe with all my heart that he’s incredibly smart, intuitive, and thoughtful.  But that’s not because a teacher or pediatrician said so, or didn’t say so.  It’s because I’m his mama and I adore him and I know him better than anyone else.

Even as I type that, it’s hard not to jump into the future and think, “He’s gonna be an engineer!” {or whatever other profession smart, logical people go into}.

I’m learning how to have dreams for my child, without making them too specific.  The life he’s living is his, not mine, and if my dreams for him are too specific I risk holding him back – and I also risk my own personal disappointment if my dreams aren’t realized.  I’m trying to remember that the story God will write for his life is better than the one I ever could.

As for my daughter, she’s a talker.  I didn’t need a doctor to tell me that.  And whether her current abilities are above average or not, I really don’t care.

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She’s just our little girl who we adore, no matter what.  And soon enough as her own story unfolds we’ll find out if she’s smart, if she’s average, if she’s below the curve, and about her own unique combination of characteristics and strengths.

Clearly, she is advanced.
Clearly, she is intellectually advanced.

I look forward to seeing who she becomes.

But right now, I’ll just enjoy those little moments and appreciate them for what they are – passing moments.  Not puzzle pieces to put together to try and predict the future.

Being a second-time parent has relaxed me.  I have more confidence in my abilities and I don’t need as much reassurance.  I’ve learned that raising kids isn’t just about parenting skills.  There’s a whole lot of luck and grace involved.

And I’m still not sure whether the pediatrician says that to all the parents, but I’ll take it.  I just won’t carry it around in my pocket.

Because my pockets are full of other stuff.  After all, I’ve got two kids.

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13 thoughts on “That Moment I Knew I Was A Second-Time Parent

  1. Great post. I’m pregnant with my second and I can already tell that I am more relaxed and less dependent on external validation this time around. It’s so important to remember that these little folks in our lives are their own people and deserve to be respected as such.

  2. Those second kids are so lucky when our neurosis have all been worked out on #1. I am seriously amazed at the changes in my parenting from 1 to 2 to 3. And each is still perfectly just who he is.

  3. What a fabulous post! And the pictures and captions were super fun!

    From my Android phone on T-Mobile. The first nationwide 4G network.

  4. Loved, loved, loved this. Because I was just like you as a first time parent and I’m pretty sure I was smug about all the things my daughter accomplished, even if it was really THAT big of a deal. Bless those around me for being patient with me… Although I think I’m doing it with my second child, too. Ugh. I’ll have to work on that!

  5. I LOVED this!! I feel almost exactly the same way you do, with my second now 16 months. I just realized he does not know his body parts yet, and my daughter knew them all by his age. I realized it and then I moved on, for I know he will learn them eventually! 🙂

  6. I totally have done the same with the well-child check ups. Even bed time routines somehow end up different. And it’s not for a lack of love or attention, but because we evolve as parents and that’s totally okay.

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