I’ve gotten some very friendly feedback and reminders that this blog is something people enjoy reading. I’ve also been feeling like we’re starting to get a handle on having two children. It has taken over a year and a half to feel that way, and it’s been one of the hardest (if not the hardest) times of our lives.
You hear a lot of slogans, platitudes and clichés when you are having a baby – when you are having a second baby one of these is “Having a second child more than doubles the work.”. What we didn’t understand, while giving our requisite chuckles and smiles in response, was how profoundly true it is – and how it would change every area of our lives.
I read most of the book Twice Blessed by Joan Leonard before Pea was born. It read, to me, as an immature diatribe against having more than one child – something most families in our culture seem to accomplish without my ever having heard of the drama this author described. My reaction was: How spoiled and out-of-touch has the culture become when having a second child can be described with such melodrama? I got rid of the book.
I just reordered it, because I want to see how it looks from the other side of the looking-glass.
So – I’m adding a new category to the sidebar (Siblings), and if you visit here with any kind of regularity you’ll note that the blog was never the same since somewhere around mid-2009.
It’s obvious to me now that people inhibit their discussion of the transition from one child to two because they don’t want their second child to receive the impression that they did something wrong or that they’re bad, or bad for the family. That seems noble and loving and wonderful, for their second (and beyond) child. It can also be disaster in the making for the people around them who are weighing their decision over whether or not to grow their family. We had word, a day or two ago, that friends of ours will likely be dissolving their marriage due to the strains directly stemming from the birth of their second child (the first of which was born after years of difficult infertility treatment) – and that couple is far from alone.
Part of our issue is that we set such a high priority on making Bee’s beginnings as wholesome, loving, educational, playful and enriched as possible. We were good at it. She’s a brilliant, incredibly well-adjusted, happy and amazing little person.
Bee was as prepared as we could help her to be for the arrival of her sister (thankfully, because their relationship is the least of our difficulties). But, relatively speaking, she has had to adapt to life on the back burner – something we pledged that we wouldn’t allow to happen. We, in fact, agreed that that not happening was one of the main considerations in our choice to have a second child. It has been improving, due to Pea’s ability to do more and more every day – but being clobbered with a year and a half of turmoil has left an impression that will forever be a part of who Bee is, and a part of Pea’s beginnings. I’m not saying this is necessarily an altogether bad thing – what I am saying is that it has been very hard.
I don’t have the time right now to get further into it – but I’ll post a couple of links to books on the subject.
Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life by Jennifer Bingham Hull (criticism of the book includes the fact that this family can afford a nanny in addition to a parent at home)
Twice Blessed by Joan Leonard
From One Child to Two by Judy Dunn
And don’t miss the dooce® blog – no single source has been a greater comfort and philosophical companion to us on this issue (especially Mom).
In closing: I love my little girls with all my heart.
And: Biology is a harsh mistress.