Monday, March 04, 2013

the second child

sister love

The work of preparation and thought and learning that went into bringing my first child into this world, caring for and nurturing her through each day and night, with varying degrees of success, contrasts strongly with the ease of doing the same things for my second child.

The epiphany I had experienced in the sudden realisation of a new and deep loving for my first child contrasts strongly with the ease of spontaneous expansion of my capacity to love my second child, and each subsequent child, individually and without reserve.

I have observed the 'second child' phenomenon many times, and talked with mothers about it.  As the months of the second pregnancy proceed there is often a niggling feeling of fear, that this wonderful mother-love that has been learned in the presence of the first, may in some way be threatened or diluted by the entry of the second into the home.  Whether this fear is articulated, or merely pondered, it's often there.

And the answer arrives with the transition of baby#2 from womb to arms.  How could I ever have doubted?

I am a second child.  I experienced first hand the realities of being second.  Parents who had done the hard yards, learning how to nourish, nurture, live with and teach a little person who is initially totally self-centred, how to think of others.  Parents for whom the routines of parenting are much easier the second time round.  And, the second child is never bored:  the older sibling is on hand, so capable, giving the younger a model to aspire towards.

My mother, Ella White, holding baby Rebecca, our second child

When my second child was born I spent a long time just looking at her.  She was wonderfully different from her sister.  Her darker complexion followed my features, while her sister was very fair.  My mother had come the long flight from Brisbane, Queensland, to Haslett, Michigan, and she nurtured me so that I was free to nurture my children.  She prepared simple meals that nourished my heart as well as my body.  She encouraged and supported her son-in-law.  Together we welcomed the second child into our home, and into our hearts, that had mysteriously enlarged to multiply the love that was available for our children.

I wonder if any of my readers have noticed the 'second child' phenomenon?

ps - Perhaps I handled my second child with greater confidence than the first?

1 comment:

Emma H. said...

Amazingly enough I was explaining this to my 13 and 15yo daughters today- how when I was pregnant with the second child I was really worried. I loved the first so much and so completely that I did not see how it was possible to love another the same way. Of course, it just happened, a miracle! My daughter thought it was a childish thought, maybe I'll remind her when one day, years hence, God-willing, she is pregnant with her second child!