I didn’t know how well I would do at parenting more than one kid, in all honesty. I will never forget being at the hospital, about to deliver Holden, and crying that I wasn’t with Brandon. He is my first son, the child who made me a mother, the first baby I could call my own. Him and I forged through his babyhood together – new territory for each of us. He fell asleep in my arms each night, exhausted from all the adventures of the day. I fell in love with every single thing about him – his temperament, his smiling eyes, his willpower. How could I ever love a child that fiercely again?
And at first, maybe it was harder with Holden: none of the territory being new, just the same but different in a way that annoyed me for being unexpected. I thought he would be a duplicate of Brandon – a doppelgänger, just two years younger. He would be baby Brandon – a time capsule that arrived two years later than the original. When he wasn’t, I was miffed that I was starting over from scratch – that my previous experience was of little to no value. I loved him, certainly, but found myself looking forward to each milestone of what comes next, rather than enjoying the stage he was currently in.
Ah, second children truly are unique. I am a second child. I am married to a second child. I understand their feelings of inadequacy, of less love, of being one in a list, rather than the start of it. They seem to find their own way, apart from the people around them – a way to stick out amongst a crowd. They find what they are passionate about it and pursue it to distinguish themselves. They seem less emotional, but every second child I know is actually extremely emotional, just inwardly more so than outwardly.
As time has marched on and my second son has turned from a baby to a tiny boy, I am falling madly in love with him the way I did with Brandon, but also so very differently. I remember as kids we would ask our parents which one of us was their favorite (didn’t all kids do that?) and they would each say they loved us all equally. I thought that was bull shit as a ten-year-old because to me everything was black-and-white, yes or no. And although yes, I realize there are personalities a person tends to gravitate towards because they have so much in common or because they perfectly balance out what is lacking in the other, that doesn’t make a love stronger or greater, just different because their relationship is so relatable or opposite.
Holden is so opposite of Brandon in every imaginable way, and although at first I thought to love equally they would have to be the same, I have learned that what I love so much about them is their differences. I smile at Brandon’s caution: his carefulness and deliberation. And then I laugh at Holden’s wild abandon. I praise Brandon’s newest verbal accomplishment and Holden’s kinesthetic one. I watch them learn the same things, but in their own ways. I wonder at how teachers can teach a roomful of kids the same way when I have only two kids and they both learn so differently.
I have found in the past year that you will love each of your children fully for who they are, which is first and foremost, your children. They are a tiny sliver of us that actually makes up so much of who we become. We marvel at what we see of ourselves in them, rarely realizing what small part of them has become a great part of us. They change us for the better, turn us joyful like children again, and teach us that love is infinite.