Last week I walked into the kitchen and saw C standing in the pantry playing with stuff he shouldn’t have been touching. And Z was right there just staring at him. I was all ready to be snippy with Z for not pulling C away, but then I realized exactly why he was staring. C didn’t look like a baby, for the first time we saw a card carrying toddler hanging out in front of us. The depth of my understanding of the word “bittersweet” is limitless now that I’m a Mom. Of course we’ve gone through this stage with T, but that doesn’t make it less meaningful the second time around.
Our boys have completely different parents. Ok, that is not some weird disclosure about their paternity, biologically they have the same parents. Unless Z has an evil twin no one knows about, then all bets are off. But in my upbringing my parents were very focused on “fairness” and treating my sister and me in exactly the same way. They were vigilant in making sure neither of us felt favored. We had lots family friends who openly favored children. I remember one awkward dinner when a neighbor told us that one daughter was her favorite and the other was her husband’s favorite IN FRONT OF THE GIRLS! Even as a kid I felt like that was cruel.
I respect what my parents were working to achieve by trying to parent my sister and me the same way, but Z and I don’t want to choose that exact approach. I will be just as vigilant in making sure they don’t think we favor one over the other, but they are individuals and I must approach them as such. Forget that they are individuals, I’m a different person when I deal with them. With each of T’s milestones it feels like Z and I are pioneers who are building our homestead from nothing. When C reaches the same milestones it feels like Z and I are moving into an old house across town from where we currently live. Poor T is faced with parents who are inventing the wheel every time he grows up a bit. C’s parents are pretty relaxed about just slapping a new paint of coat on the walls before settling in.
If I could continue my rather clumsy analogy, I don’t think Z or I prefer homesteading to moving in to an existing house. They are completely different, but different is good. It’s exciting and terrifying to create something from scratch. It is comforting and we feel relaxed being somewhere we’ve already been. Neither is better, we just need to acknowledge and respect the differences.
I don’t write about C very often. One of my smart friends pointed out that I blog as a way to figure stuff out. C’s personality is bizarrely easygoing. He is delighted by pretty much everything. He’s an observer, he adores his brother and loves watching him do anything. And eventually he’ll try and jump in. I’ve never been around a kid who is so giving with smiles. He’s a cuddler who actually hugs back, and he’s been doing that since he was quite a little baby. When you combine who he is with where we are as parents there is little angst accompanying his development.
It’s hard right now, parenting two little ones so close in age when they both need a lot. But for our family it was the right choice to have the boys close together. Yes, I wish there was more of me to go around, but they’d get different parts of me if there were 10 years, or 1, or 5 between them. No matter how much time I wish I had to give each one (and can you ever really feel like you give your kid enough time?) I am able to love them both completely. They get different parts of me, but I love them both with my whole heart. My sister and I were born 2 years, 1 month, 3 days apart. When I was a kid dreaming of parenthood I’d say I wanted two girls with the same spread. I got two boys born 2 years, 2 weeks, and 4 days apart. So while the gender was wrong I pretty much nailed the spacing. B and I were unusually tight as kids. We moved so much (my high school was my 8th school) that we had to be friends. We even had the same group of friends in high school. And we ended up going through our pregnancies at the same time, which was an amazing gift. Who knows what will happen with my boys’ relationship? I have lots of friends who don’t have tight relationships with their siblings who are close in age, on the other hand Z has rich friendships with his sisters-one who is 4 years younger, the other who is 10 years his junior. At this stage my boys really dig each other, I hope that love develops into deep and lasting friendship throughout their lives.