Q: I guess it is a little too late to do much about it now, but I have to admit to moments of trepidation as I watch my wife carry through our second pregnancy.
So far, everything is great. Mom is doing well as is the unborn baby. We expect the baby sometime after the middle of September.
By then, our first baby will be just weeks away from her second birthday.
Our first baby has been a delight. We love her to pieces and we get super excited every time she crosses another threshold.
I must have made at least a dozen calls to friends, relatives and anyone else who would listen to me brag just after our baby took her first step.
But I fear that will change. Those bonds that have so tightly wound themselves around the three of us (Mom, baby and me) are not likely to be as forbearing, nor as intense, with the new child.
I am wondering if that necessarily has to be. Does having another child have to run interference with those parent/child moments built with the first child?
A: The answer to your question is of course yes and no. It will be different and it will be the same.
In your case, I hope that you will take that enthusiasm for discovery as much into the birth of your second child as you did your first one. It will be a bit different this time around. Taking that first step for the second baby will not resonate with the same intensity as it did with your older child, neither will finding the first tooth, or pretending that when the baby says “dada” he or she is actually choosing a deliberate set of words to communicate to the rest of the world.
The big difference comes when your second baby and the older sister discover each other. They could not do that before there were two of them. Those first few moments alone with each other are the beginning of a predestined life time relationship and the ways in which they explore each other now will go a long way to setting the foundation for those important moments in their lives that they reserve for each other down the road.
This, by the way, discovering each other, is something that they have to do for themselves. Parents have a bad habit of running interference with their children, trying to make them relate to each other much in the same manner that is wound through the idealized pages of a fantasized fairytale book. It does not happen. Kids are not perfect. They will not always be nice to each other. But left to their own resources they most often will figure things out for themselves and in doing so each will take responsibility for his or her part in their relationship. The less you interfere with them, the more likely it is that they will carry each other through the long term.
By the way, I hope that you do not think that having more children is necessarily easy. When I was counselling families, I used to say to moms and dads that increasing your family arithmetically increases the workload geometrically. In other words, having two children carries more than twice the amount of work you as parents have to do. Fortunately, so are getting the rewards.
Let’s face it, romping on the living room floor with two or more kids just beats the heck out of the fun you had with only one child.
Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.