Wins, Woes, and Kid #2
Your stories for the week
Last weekend, I posted an Instagram reel and, for various reasons, when it appeared in Stories the initial caption was “Now that I’m pregnant again…” I had to get on to reassure people that I am definitely not pregnant again.
While this was happening, I was on a weekend trip with my almost-12-year-old, where we dressed up and went to dinner and talked about the really weird Bing chatbot situation. I was a little sad to realize I’m never going back to those early stages, and also very happy to realize how amazing these current moments are, and then a little sad that they’re growing up, and then happy that they’re happy. So, a woe and a win and a woe and a win. Life is complex. Though not as complex as it would be I were pregnant again!
Read on for today’s stories and a question from a pregnant reader who is having a hard time being excited about kid #2. As always, you can leave a comment for any of our readers and contribute your own story or question for a future newsletter here. We love to hear from you.
Proud Mom of a Tattletale
We’ve been really struggling with our 4-year-old frequently hitting, biting, pulling hair, etc. when he gets upset at his classmates. There have been so many phone calls from the school, so much feeling ashamed and powerless. Yesterday our kid finally made it through a whole day of school without any physical aggression. He said a classmate pointed their finger at his chest and said “pew,” but he just said “stop!” They didn’t stop when he asked, so he went to tell the teacher. I was so proud of him.
Every time we go to Target, my son throws a fit when we pass the toy section. I just dread being “that mom” carrying a screaming child under one arm all the way to checkout. On our last trip, I could see him getting ramped up as I prompted, “Just a few more minutes till it’s time to go!” But then I remembered a technique from a book I’ve been reading about toddler communication: give in fantasy what you can’t give in reality.
I picked him up and said, “If you could have any toy here, what would it be?” Motorcycle — of course. “Wouldn’t it be fun,” I said, “if we could take all these motorcycles home with us? What colors would you pick?” As we left the toy section, he chatted happily about a sparkly purple motorcycle with rainbow stripes, and not a single tear was shed! He even bestowed a fantasy motorcycle upon his baby sister — bonus sharing win!
Preferred and Pooped
I see a lot written about how hard it is to be the partner of the preferred parent — when your toddler prefers your spouse. I have no doubt that’s true, and that I would hate it more if the tables were turned for me. But I think we might not talk enough about how hard it is to be the preferred parent. In this season of relentless illness, I am in the bedroom with our sick kid night after night after night, and she won’t let my partner step in to help even for a moment. And all the holding her during the day and being the go-to for playtime… it’s sweet, but it’s exhausting!
Now it’s time for this week’s reader question:
Hive mind, can you please assuage my fears about going from one to two small children? I am midway through pregnancy with kid #2, due shortly after kid #1 turns two. I am having a hard time being excited. My partner and I have loved being parents, but we are also pretty independent and really value our identities as not just parents. We both work demanding/rewarding jobs, love to travel and adventure outdoors, and don’t live near our families. I’m worried that this lifestyle is just not sustainable and am preemptively mourning my independence. I grew up as a happy only child. Can you help me see the bright side of things?
—Happy Only Child
What do you think?
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To happy only child,
About a year and a half ago I was exactly in your shoes! We had one, two year old daughter who had finally started sleeping through the night and I was just telling one of my mommy friends on the playground I was so happy with one kid and I truly felt our family was complete. We live in Colorado so our weekends are filled with running, hiking, skiing, travel, etc etc. I had just started my own coaching business. I had finally gotten comfortable traveling solo with my daughter and as a running coach I can work anywhere, the world was our oyster! I had just weaned nursing, finally felt comfortable in my body, and had run a 3:16 marathon and was gearing up for a big training cycle to go for sub 3 and then crush the Boston Marathon… and two weeks later found out I was shockingly pregnant. I struggled with infertility for YEARS and had to do IVF for our daughter so a natural pregnancy wasn’t even remotely on my radar. Incoming!!! It took me the entire first trimester to come to terms with having a second kid, and I worried about everything from being overwhelmed with being outnumbered when my husband was at work to not loving him as much as I loved my daughter (how could I POSSIBLY love someone as much as I love her!?). Long story short, I literally cannot imagine our family without him. We do all of the same things we did with one, and yes the car is a little more packed on our travels, but so are our hearts. I found that it isn’t twice as much work having two kids because you’re already in the rhythm, you know the drill and what to expect. You have all the “baby things”, you won’t call the pediatrician 25 times the first week you bring baby home and Google normal infant poop pictures. Don’t feel guilty if you’re not super excited, I think the difference between baby 1 and baby 2 is now you have a very real understanding of the “expectation vs reality” of parenthood. It’s not all matching clothes and chunky baby pics and picnics in the park. But that’s parenthood- it’s messy and a constant revolving door of problem solving. But it’s also hilarious and fun and awesome. And if you’re writing in, seeking advice, and worried about not being thrilled to expand your family, that means you care enough to be thinking of all the what ifs. You’re doing great with 1, and you’ll do great with 2, too!!
My husband also got a vasectomy after his birth (*high five*) cause one oopsababy is quite enough for this lifetime.
Please take in all the good advice others give here, but I have some additional perspective. I am a 76-year-old grandmother (I read Emily at the suggestion of my daughters) I have two sisters and as the oldest child I often wondered WHY! But they are who supports me and understand me and give me comfort in my old age. I am continuously grateful for my parents raising 3 of us--it gives us such benefits now.
In addition to the joy and in spite of the struggle there will be, your children will have each other to lean on in hard or lonely times. Best wishes to your family!