At first, when Holden was a screaming baby, I wondered if I would ever love him the way I loved Brandon. Brandon was my first boy, the boy who taught me how to be a mother and how to love unconditionally. None of that could be recreated – the magic had already happened. With Brandon, I was patient rather than weary. I was two years younger and much more naive. It was fresh and new: this baby stuff.
But with Holden, it was a new baby, tired old hat. Waking up in the nights was old. I quickly loosened up in my parenting. Instead of running to his crib when he cried, I paused and let him put himself back to sleep. He was a better sleeper than Brandon because I allowed him some more independence. He learned to roll quicker because I let him be alone on the floor. He was a less needy baby, not needing me because I didn’t make him need me.
So the beginning, the babyhood, was hard. Mothers need to feel needed, and not being cried for made me feel less loved. But I have noticed his toddlerhood is a whole different ballgame. With Brandon, I would mourn the milestones, meaning it meant a time of neediness had closed as he learned something new. But with the second kid, I rather find joy in each new step he makes, new level he climbs to. I am not sad that he has graduated, I am happy to see him growing into a boy.
Because I have learned that babyhood is just the necessary step to get to the person they become. And watching them grow into their own is the good stuff. Now that I’ve had one baby grow into a boy, I know what is coming, and I am excited to watch Holden scramble to catch up to Brandon. It is not sad what is over, rather, it is exciting what is to come.
Now that he is a toddler, talking up a storm and running around like a maniac, I am constantly showering Holden with kisses and hugging him. Maybe I’m making up for what I missed when he was a baby. Maybe I just have a whole new appreciation for who he is now that we have passed what I thought he should have been. When he was a baby, I assumed he would be like Brandon, cuddly and needy. But now that he’s a boy, I appreciate the independence he has always had, knowing it was always a part of him.
I have learned to hold Brandon’s hand and to let Holden run wild within my sight. I have learned that my boys are fantastically different. We react differently to different people. I love them each, and in the end, the second kid catches up to the first. It’s not a comparison, but rather each love is unconditional. We have as much love to give as there are people who need to receive it.