Why is it the very second I get my hands in the dish pan, I think of something to write about?
I wish I could have parented my first child the way I parent my second child. Not only have I been more relaxed and less stressed, but my second child is so much more capable of things like dressing and undressing himself, brushing his teeth, feeding himself and generally figuring things out on his own.
My first child, on the other hand, needs (I say “needs” but it’s really “wants”) my constant attention, constant assistance and constant approval. She is three years older than her brother. She started school this year and I still dress and undress her 95% of the time, feed her most of her meals, go to the bathroom with her and wipe her bum when she’s finished.
She’s capable of all these things. And, on occasion, she does them. But mostly, it’s me.
My mother once told me a story of my sisters and I when we were growing up. I’m the oldest and my mother’s second child is a year younger than me. Her third child is five years younger than me.
One evening, my mother proceeded to get her two oldest children ready for bed. Once we were dressed, teeth brushed and faces washed, she went off to get her baby ready for bed. What she found was a toddler who had dressed herself, brushed her own teeth, washed her face and was waiting patiently to be put to bed. I’m not sure how old my sisters and I were at the time, probably around six, seven and two. But I think of that story often when I’m undressing my school-aged daughter for the bath and my toddler son is stripping down, taking his diaper off and climbing into the tub on his own (under my supervision, of course).
And I’ve heard similar stories from so many mothers. What if we could have our second child first? What if we were different parents the first time around? Would we raise more well-adjusted children?