Mothering from Scratch

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Amy Nathan

When my son was three I became a new mom -- again. What I learned in those first few hours as the mother of two was more than I'd found in any book of maternal expectations. Although I was an expert at being my little boy's mom, when it came to my newborn daughter, I was mothering from scratch.

I considered myself a veteran of the mommy wars. I'd survived preschool admissions and the carpool line. But only a few hours after my second Caesarean, a portly nurse who'd recently had a good night's sleep rolled in Chloe's Plexiglass nursery bassinet. I was blindsided. "She's supposed to be in the newborn nursery so I can rest up," I said candidly, smiling at my bundle of joy swaddled in a hospital blanket and cap. I knew that sleep would be at even more of a premium once we got home and the morphine drip wore off.

"She's keeping the other babies awake," the nurse said. "You need to keep her in here."

How was it that my daughter was causing a commotion at merely four hours old? I felt like I was being hauled into the principal's office. I contemplated my options. Even through my postpartum fog I could see I had none. And then I remembered the serene life formerly known as mine. Zachary, my son, was never at the nexus of an uproar, not even at three years old. Juggling car seats would be the easiest of my upcoming tricks. Having one baby under my belt didn't give me a lick of insight into what this new child would be like or what I'd need to be good at being her mother.

What everyone always said was true -- no two children are the same. What they didn't tell me is that you can't be the same mother to each child. I really thought that aside from buying pink bedding and learning to push a double-stroller down the supermarket aisle, I'd do everything the way I did the first time. How could a second baby's needs be much different? Eat. Sleep. Poop. Repeat. I thought she would be like my son, who napped in the automatic swing while I sang songs, polished my nails and watched my soaps. I would just have to check every so often to make sure she was breathing. That day in the hospital, I learned I was wrong. Her constant crying meant I'd never have to check whether she was breathing.

I learned to sleep on the sofa while Chloe slept in the swing next to me. I learned to wedge a chair next to the dryer so she could nap in her car seat, soothed for a record 20 minutes straight. As she got older I grew accustomed to shuffling her from hip to hip, while I played with her brother, cooked dinner, talked on the phone and folded laundry.

She talked sooner and walked later. Zachary fell asleep to music with the light on. Chloe liked to sleep in quiet darkness. Once she learned to roll over, she never stopped. She made me dizzy -- and she made me laugh.

My daughter taught me a lesson that transcends motherhood. By rocking the baby boat, she taught me to go with the flow. I figured out new ways of doing old things. I learned to go in two directions at once. That was what I could expect as the mother of two. And that was what my kids could rightly expect of me.

Amy Nathan is a writer and mom near Chicago where she lives with Zachary, Chloe and three big dogs.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 27, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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Great guest blog. As I am pregnant with my second child, it was great reminder that all kids are different. I am hoping for a more easy going child this time. First kid was a bit much. :) Anyway, it is wonderful to see you trying to meet both children's unique needs. I thought it was funny that at 4 hours old, your daughter was making her mark on the world. Best of luck to you and your family.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 27, 2007 7:28 AM

Sometimes you see it all at once - I have a twin sister and we are as different as night and day. Poor mom, need to go and give her a hug...:-) And a "thank you!".

Posted by: Catwhowalked | November 27, 2007 7:36 AM

Great guest blog, but as the father of 4, three of whom are teenagers, a whole bunch of things come to me at once:

1 - all kids are different. Period. Never expect any two of them to be the same.

2 - This will be the case throughout their entire lives. It will be frustrating, nerve-racking, and above all, fun. Enjoy it. There's nothing quite like trying to get two teenage daughters ready for the same homecoming dance and realizing both how alike they are and how different they are.

3 - The biggest difference comes when you're outnumbered. For us, when the third child came along, big chaos ensued. As has been noted on this blog many times, at that point you can no longer play a man-to-man defense, you have to play zone. And that takes some getting used to.

4 - Along those lines - 'Amy lives with Zachary, Chloe and three big dogs.' Umm, do these children not have a father? Does he not help? Where was he when Amy was at the hospital after giving birth to Chloe? Was he simply an anonymous sperm donor? (I'm sorry if this last point seems overly snarky. I recognize that if there's never been a father present, the Amy had to shift into the zone when Chloe was born, and that makes a big difference. But geez louise, it deserves at least a mention.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 7:52 AM

I loved this blog. I was lucky to have two different kinds of babies: the first was easy and the second was easier. I have always felt for the (many) moms I've known who had the easy one first then the colicky one second.

Posted by: maggielmcg | November 27, 2007 8:23 AM

What a charming story..full of humour, love, and laughter.

ArmyBrat - I also wondered about dear old Dad here. my 17 yr old just earned his license. We trotted out our well used individual driving contract out for modifications for this one. If it isn't one thing, it is another.

mleifer - I feel for those moms with colicky firsts!

Posted by: dotted_1 | November 27, 2007 8:31 AM

Another incredibly dull guest blog! Gotta hand to Leslie. She must be some sales woman to persuade these folks to bare their lives and souls on this blog or do grandiose egos somehow find their way to this blog? Have any of these guest bloggers read this blog?

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 8:33 AM

ArmyBrat and others -- don't bash the guest blogger's husband. He is literally no longer with us, which is why he wasn't mentioned.

This blog reminded me of my own experience with an easy first baby and tough second one. I thought I was such a good mom with my first -- no trouble nursing, getting him to sleep through the night, losing the baby weight, blah blah blah. Hahaha! I was merely lucky with the first, as I learned within hours of my daughter's arrival. She was such a troublemaker in the nursery that they sent her to ICU.

Parenthood is indeed humbling (one of the best things about it).

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 8:37 AM

I'm like mleifer in that I had two easy children. I was too wigged out to fully appreciate how laid back my first-born was, but I realized it when his sister was born. I tell you, I look back on those first 6 months with him and wonder why on earth I felt like I couldn't even pee for fear he'd expire. Ridiculous. Oh, to have the experience of the first all over again, knowing what I now know . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 27, 2007 8:40 AM

Chitty, chill out. Why don't you write a Guest Blog? Are you just too busy posting incoherent comments?

(Sorry in advance, everyone. Need a little more coffee before I can shrug off the big C. Off to the microwave...)

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 8:40 AM

Leslie

"Parenthood is indeed humbling (one of the best things about it)."

Really??? How has it humbled Perry?

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 8:41 AM

I am so jealous of people who had two easy babies in a row...I have known a few, including one with two teenage girls 16months apart who never fought. fortunately the mom freely admitted she had nothing to do with it...the worst is parents (like me with my first) who think they are geniuses. parenting is far harder than that.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 8:43 AM

Leslie - not bashing...just wondering here.

Sadly, Chitty was bashing the whole column. She failed to see the well-written humour. Oh well, different strokes for different folks.

Posted by: dotted_1 | November 27, 2007 8:43 AM

"don't bash the guest blogger's husband. He is literally no longer with us, which is why he wasn't mentioned."

Oh, well, that's very different. Never mind. (TM Emily Litella)

Leslie, I wasn't trying to "bash" the husband - just find out why he wasn't mentioned, since two parents and two kids do make a huge difference. I'm very sorry to hear that Amy is a widow with two young children, but I consider that germane to the topic - it should have been mentioned somewhere in there.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 8:44 AM

Perry started out humble! I'm the arrogant one in the family. Wasn't that obvious?

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 8:48 AM

Hi ArmyBrat...at the time my daughter was born my husband worked about 100 hours per week. This is really the story of how I handled that transition of mom of one to mom of two, and my revelations.

Since the time written about above, I have gotten divorced, and my children's father has died.

I'm sure you can imagine that there was much more balancing to come -- but that does not diminish the impact these lessons had on my life.

Thanks.

Posted by: asng3017 | November 27, 2007 8:51 AM

Leslie

"Chitty, chill out. Why don't you write a Guest Blog? Are you just too busy posting incoherent comments?"

I and a bunch of other regular posters HAVE written more than the equivalent of several guest columns. You would know that if you were savvy enough to read between the lines....

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 8:51 AM


dotted - sympathies on the driver's license. We now have three teenaged drivers, sort of, since middle DD just got her learner's permit last week. We're trying to teach her to drive, while working with DS on driving the car with the manual transmission better, and explaining to oldest DD that no, she cannot take one of our cars to college to keep.

They're all very different in terms of driving style. As my sister says it, "oldest DD misspells '65' as '8' '2'." DS delights in jackrabbit starts when the light turns green; he never runs the yellow because he so likes being first at the line - but he doesn't speed. Middle DD so far is much more cautious, but give her time.

My sincere condolences to you, though, about the insurance bill. I used to think that college tuition was high, until I got my latest car insurance bill. And none of us has ever even gotten a ticket yet! (Keeps fingers and toes crossed as he says that.:-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 8:52 AM

I really liked this guest blog. I don't see any problem with the author not mentioning her husband. I mean, it's about her transition, her revelations, her feelings. And I assumed that if he wasn't mentioned, there's probably a good reason.

My mom tells me that my brother and I were completely different babies. Luckily for her, she got the tough one first and the easy one (me) last. If I had to pick (Ha!) that's how I'd want to do it. :)

Posted by: Meesh | November 27, 2007 8:58 AM

Do you guys find that the "problem" babies turn out to be the rebellious teens and that the "easy" babies turn out to be the laid back teens?

That's certainly how it was with me and my brother. He was always getting into trouble in school, getting into accidents, etc. And I was the honor role kid who never rocked the boat. Just something I wonder...

Posted by: Meesh | November 27, 2007 9:01 AM

Chitty -- it's a lot harder to write a coherent guest blog on one topic than to react to what someone else has written. i think your comments are (sometimes) interesting, but maybe what you write would be more focused if you attempted a real guest blog on a single topic of your choosing. and it can't be why you can't stand me (i'm not sure anyone but you and i would enjoy that).

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 9:02 AM

3 - The biggest difference comes when you're outnumbered.

ArmyBrat,

No, no. You have it "wrong". EVERY child needs TWO parents. So when two parents have two (or more) children, we're outnumbered.

This is when it becomes imperative to enlist the assistance of as many like-minded adults as possible. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbours, parents of friends, coaches, they are ALL given license to grab any miscreant by the scruff, lay down the law, inform me and then I get to dole out additional consequences.

And to all who suggested it--my youngest child has developed less aversion to doing homework and practicing instruments when the alternative was employed. The kid now knows how to clean a bathroom, including the toilet, and what the "minimally acceptable standard" entails. Many thanks!

(insert Evil Mom laugh)

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 27, 2007 9:11 AM

I and a bunch of other regular posters HAVE written more than the equivalent of several guest columns. You would know that if you were savvy enough to read between the lines....


Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 08:51 AM

That's not the same thing as writing an entire essay and submitting it for consideration.

I have no doubt that many would enjoy reading yours. Let us know when it is forthcoming, please.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 27, 2007 9:15 AM

Leslie, sigh

"Chitty -- it's a lot harder to write a coherent guest blog on one topic than to react to what someone else has written. i think your comments are (sometimes) interesting, but maybe what you write would be more focused if you attempted a real guest blog on a single topic of your choosing."

1. The comments ARE always gonna be more interesting than the original post...duh.

2. Again, IF YOU HAD BEEN READING BETWEEN THE LINES, you would know that I prefer not to write on a single topic on this blog, at least, and I'm not really sure why others do. Single topics tend to polarize......... Is that your intention?

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 9:21 AM

IF YOU HAD BEEN READING BETWEEN THE LINES, you would know that I prefer not to write on a single topic on this blog, at least, and I'm not really sure why others do. Single topics tend to polarize......... Is that your intention?

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 09:21 AM

This reminds me of a mother of a teammate. She had much to say about the coach's ineptitude, bad decisions, inexperience, and how great and wonderful a player her kid was, and that the OTHER league was so much better, etc.

The day she sidled next to me and started baying is the day I told her that the coach was a volunteer and sticking his neck out. I told her to put up or shut up; I wasn't interested in listening to her b*tch and moan.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 27, 2007 9:29 AM

sounds like Chitty is advocating a non-topic-of-the-day blog... Can Chitty ever be happy? And does anyone care about making Chitty happy? I know I don't particularly care here since you can't make someone happy when they're determined to be unhappy.

Posted by: dotted_1 | November 27, 2007 9:30 AM

ArmyBrat - do you use a teen driving contract? I find it works well for my kids, but ymmv of course.

Posted by: dotted_1 | November 27, 2007 9:31 AM

"sounds like Chitty is advocating a non-topic-of-the-day blog... Can Chitty ever be happy? "

OH, NO!! Chitty is not a good girl, and Chitty is NOT NICE and doesn't play well and doesn't suck up to cyber strangers on the NET. It's the end of the world!

"And does anyone care about making Chitty happy"


Are you in high school? People can't make other people happy!

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 9:39 AM

Teen Driving Contract discussion -- I'd like to devote an entire day to contracts with teenagers -- whether it is driving, drugs, sex, money, alcohol, etc.

If you've got a good anecdote, opinion, or advice, can you send me an email so I can include it?

leslie@lesliemorgansteiner.com

Thanks.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 9:41 AM

Amy - this is a great guest column and reminds me of how different the conversations are with parents of one child and those with parents of more than one child. Leslie's experience with her first, and her realization that she'd been lucky rather than brilliant, resembles my experience.

is chitty the new bababooey - a narcissist with no life and no job? If this blog turns into a forum for a single person, at least let it be someone coherent and thoughtful.

dotted and armybrat, I am very interested in how you have both maintained your sanity in a home with teen drivers. Please carry on.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 27, 2007 9:48 AM

Anyone get the feeling that Chitty is upset that more people read t-shirt slogans than read her blog?

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 27, 2007 9:48 AM

As for how infant temperments reflect adult personalities... my DH and SIL were both real challenges as babies and little kids- SIL was her high school valedictorian and DH graduated college at the top of his major. BIL, on the other hand, was an "easy" baby who slept all the time and never cried. He barely graduated from high school. A stubborn streak isn't necessarily a bad thing in the long run.

Posted by: floof | November 27, 2007 9:53 AM

dotted, we don't use a driving "contract" in the sense of written down, signed, etc. We do set expectations, and lay out verbally the consequences. The things we cover include:
- responsibilities in the car. We're big believers in the "pilot in command" model
- driving dangerously (speeding, lights, etc.)
- driving while distracted - cell phone, chatting with passengers, fiddling with the radio, etc.
- car maintenance - putting gas in when necessary, checking oil and other fluid levels on a regular basis, "pre-flight walk-around" to check tire status, etc. before each drive.
- reporting issues to us - dings, dents, rattles, noises, low tire pressure, worn tires, oil low, etc.
- contents of cars and interior maintenance, also known as "you spill it, you clean it up" and "I don't want to find petrified french fries under my seat"

The main reason we don't put it in writing is that we don't think we need to; they're now old enough to understand these things. Also, I want the ability to decide on an appropriate punishment for each offense given the unique circumstances.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 9:58 AM

" If this blog turns into a forum for a single person, at least let it be someone coherent and thoughtful. "

I'm a widow...

How coherent and thoughtful are the other regulars on this Blog?

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 9:59 AM

Agreed about stubborn streak. Old saying "The wildest colts make the best horses." Our daughter can be bossy, tempermental, competitive, determined and very, very loud -- but if she survives growing up in our family I think she has a chance of ruling the world one day. There is an excellent book by Rachel Simmons called Odd Girl Out about girls who bully. In many cases they have an excess of what the world considers leadership qualities in men and boys, but less acceptable in girls. If you can "direct" the innate need to lead in positive ways, the female "bullies" turn into leaders. I try to remember this when my daughter is bossing around the entire house.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 9:59 AM

A stubborn streak isn't necessarily a bad thing in the long run.

Posted by: floof | November 27, 2007 09:53 AM

Man, ain't that the truth.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 27, 2007 10:00 AM

Chitty, would you like a copy too?

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 10:00 AM

Are you in high school? People can't make other people happy!


Posted by: chittybangbang | November 27, 2007 09:39 AM

Phew. I'm so relieved to be off the hook, Chitty. Sometimes you make me smile -- or can't people make other people smile either?

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 27, 2007 10:02 AM

Chitty, would you like a copy too?

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 10:00 AM

Leslie, LOL, My hat is off to you for this one!

Posted by: mn.188 | November 27, 2007 10:04 AM

MN, who says I've maintained my sanity? :-)

The short answer is that having teen drivers is both a blessing and a curse. It's great when you can send one of them to get eggs when you're halfway through a recipe and discovered that after dropping and breaking one you don't have enough. On the other hand, there have been any number of times when the phone has rung while one or more is out with the car, and I've seriously expected the call to be informing me about a wreck, a ticket, or some other calamity.

The only thing you can do is establish rules and expectations, limit their driving to match their abilities (e.g., no driving in downtown Baltimore or DC when they first get their licenses), monitor closely, provide corrections where needed, and pray for the best.

Of course, by the time they're of driving age, driving is only one of the things that can cause you to lose your sanity. There's boyfriend/girlfriend issues ("don't get pregnant/get some girl pregnant/get an STD"), underage drinking ("the last party at that friend's house got busted; you're not going there"), drugs, college/the future, etc.

But I wouldn't trade it right now for anything in the world. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 10:10 AM

Man, this blog is just so true. For me, it was the reverse: challenging daughter first; easygoing son second. The first few years with my daughter were really tough; learning to parent is hard enough, but when you have a child who is just more everything (energy, sensitivity, need for attention, pigheadedness, etc.), it's easy to think you're doing something wrong. It can take a long time to figure out that other kids are NOT all like this, and to learn the specific triggers and responses and methods that work for your kid. So by the time we got to no. 2, I felt pretty well qualified; if I could figure her out, well, a regular kid would be a breeze, right?

Hah! What's that old saying, life is what happens while you're making other plans? These two are night and day -- food, toys, personality, preferences, dislikes, what sets them off, etc. Some of it was great -- with my son, for the first time, I realized that kids actually PLAY with those baby mats (I thought they were just to make mom feel less guilty for putting the baby down on the floor, but he absolutely loved them). But some of it was really rough -- for example, I never realized how lucky I was that I never had to worry about where my Doppler Girl was, because you could always just follow the stream of talking. But the boy is quiet, stealthy, and deadly -- you turn your back for 30 seconds, and he's halfway up the stairs. It's not just learning entirely new skills and tricks and routines -- first, you have to unlearn all the stuff that worked with the first one!

But I am very lucky that the boy is the "easy" one. As hard as it was to deal with a challenging child as a new, inexperienced parent, it would have been a lot tougher if she had been second. And no, ArmyBrat, there's just no way on God's green earth that we will ever allow ourselves to be outnumbered! Heck, we were outmanned and outgunned with just our daughter; adding a third would be a recipe for disaster!

Posted by: laura33 | November 27, 2007 10:11 AM

"Our daughter can be bossy, tempermental, competitive, determined and very, very loud -- but if she survives growing up in our family I think she has a chance of ruling the world one day."

Somehow, I suspect my girl is going to be fighting her for that top spot. :-)

Posted by: laura33 | November 27, 2007 10:15 AM

I enjoyed this guest blog, I just wish it was a little longer. My first is 11 months now and my husband and I are having an ongoing debate about whether to have a second, so I am always interested in getting the scoop on what having two is like. My friend, a mother of one, tells me that all of the friends in her playgroup are in agreement that two is more than twice the work of one, and that they are all completely frazzled since having the second. My question, is there more than double the joy to go along all this work, seems to go unanswered. Maybe this just depends upon your situation, your finances, and your children's personalities... Being a parent of to my first is more work than I thought, but it also gives me alot more joy than I anticipated.
Many thanks for the nice guest blog, and the insights about the uniqueness of each of your children that several of you have shared here...

Posted by: pinkoleander | November 27, 2007 10:30 AM

pinkoleander, I love having two. I felt I finally hit my stride when I had my second, and have never stopped feeling that way. I greatly enjoy my relationship with each child (they are VERY different kids), and I enjoy their relationship with each other tremendously. It's fun to watch them play and learn from each other, and it's even fun (usually) to see them bicker and quarrel. They are best friends and the most important people to each other in the world after Mom and Dad. Can't recommend having two highly enough.

Now if I could only figure out whether to have a third. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 27, 2007 10:35 AM

I loved this guest blog! I had the somewhat fortunate experience of having a super-difficult baby first. Hers was a difficult birth, she never slept more than a couple of hours (for her first full year), she wanted to be held all the time, she was as stubborn as the day is long (still is), she had reflux and so was nearly always unhappy and throwing up, and she seemed to want to knock physical milestones off her mental checklist--rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, running--all earlier than we expected and earlier than we (and the house) was prepared for. She wore me out every day.

Then my son came along--easy birth, easy nursing, content to be held or not, slept pretty well, liked to just watch the world go by. He would laugh for no apparent reason and got the nickname Guy Smiley. We spent my maternity leave in the spring in the backyard hammock under the dogwood tree. It was disgustingly idyllic and I felt so fortunate that I had been prepared for another several months of no sleep and spit-up damp clothing and instead got this baby who seemed to be a reward for just living through my daughter's first year!

And then he hit seven months old and all hell broke loose, but that's another story!

Posted by: sarahfran | November 27, 2007 10:37 AM

Pinkoleander,

If you want to read more about being the mom of two you can visit my blog. It's not all about parenting, but you might find what you're looking for. I have a lot of experience as the mom of two -- Zachary is now 15 and Chloe is 12. But the memories of that transition is with me still, as you can tell.

Oh, and by the way -- Chloe is now the easier one!

Amy Nathan
Kvetch Blog
http://orthoticcontessa.com/

Posted by: asng3017 | November 27, 2007 10:45 AM

This is a great entry. Totally true.

Hopefully your previous birth experience left you confident enough to tell the nurse that you needed your rest, the hospital wasn't giving anybody a break on the charges if the baby was in your room instead of the nursery and to please take the baby back!

My second was quite different from my first, and it was a shock. They've continued to be different for the past 20+ years, but at least now I expect it.

Posted by: RedBird27 | November 27, 2007 10:50 AM

ArmyBrat-we used a written contract because it helps cover all the bases, sets better and clearer expectations, etc. I've always been amazed how verbal communications can so easily be confusing. Of course, the 17yr old will likely be a lawyer, so it really pays to be exceptionally clear...MN...that was a joke!!!

Leslie - I'll send you a copy of our written contract.

Chitty-making happy means trying to please you can never work so why should anyone try? Thus, your complaints just take up space without real substance or meaning. Sort of like your screaming of 'read between the lines' earlier today.

Posted by: dotted_1 | November 27, 2007 11:04 AM

Laura -- Hilarious your daughter is the same. You can't really tell at first. The hardest thing, truly, besides daily family life, is that our daughter's class is filled with Alpha Girls. At least 5 or 6. Since kindergarten they have been jockeyed for first position. More tears, tantrums and kitty fights than you can imagine. My daughter LOVES only children -- because they don't have the same sibling rivalry issues and stuff to prove. But pair her with another second child with a chip on her shoulder and it's murder.

But the good news is that she is UBER responsible and mature. She is going to take care of me in my old age when my "good" children have been bullied into submission by their spouses. But my daughter will always be a free spirit, I believe. If we can survive her adolescence.

MN -- Glad you liked that little jab. I'm usually not good at coming up with those. Wish I could take a class...

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 11:06 AM

pinkoleander, two is more than twice the work, but also less than half. As if that makes any sense. It's not as much of a change as adding the first. Once you figure out the new routine, it's just a little more each day -- are a few more groceries, a little more laundry, a little more reading and playing, but it's not that much more for two. But the problem is, you're adding that little bit extra on to an already full day -- it may only be 30 mins of extra "work" a day (playtime and books and stuff doesn't count!), but when the day is already 16 hrs long, what's going to give? Time with your first? (some) Time for yourself? (yep) Sleep? (double yep) Housework? (first on the list to go) Only you can know whether you're willing and able to find that extra time and live with that little extra degree of chaos or not.

And to answer your other question: yes, absolutely the love grows. I was really worried about this; I feel so intensely for my daughter, so I just couldn't comprehend that I could possibly love another child as much. But now I cannot imagine my world without my little guy in it. Just this Thanksgiving, I watched him pack away 3 toddler-sized piles of mashed potatoes and four toddler-sized slices of pie, and I flashed forward a dozen years to when he'll be eating the Mt. St. Helen's of mashed potatoes and half a pie, and I was already missing my sweet little guy!!

Posted by: laura33 | November 27, 2007 11:10 AM

Sad news about death of Redskins Sean Taylor last night. Reminded me of that Pew research we discussed last week about middle class African American children who slip below parents' achievements. Not exactly parallel, but Taylor's dad was a successful football player too. Very sad that despite Sean Taylor's athletic success his life is over at 24. He leaves behind a toddler daughter.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 11:14 AM

Leslie - I found the news about Sean Taylor sad myself. I don't know why particularly. It just seems so senseless.

and I want to take that class too. MN could teach it, imho. She's gooooood.

Posted by: dotted_1 | November 27, 2007 11:16 AM

"Of course, the 17yr old will likely be a lawyer, so it really pays to be exceptionally clear...MN...that was a joke!!!"

dotted, DW and I often joke that our contribution to the decline of the US is that we're raising four lawyers. They all seem to be able to argue any arcane point against us. ("But you said I couldn't watch that show on television. You never said I couldn't watch in on the Internet later in the week." "You said I couldn't go into my sister's room and take her makeup without her permission. You never said I couldn't take the makeup she brought into the bathroom." and so on)

DW and I thought about it and decided that no matter how hard we tried, we could never come up with a written "contract" that covered all situations they could get into. It's easier to set the rules verbally and then address unforeseen circumstances when necessary. I'd rather be accused of being "harsh and arbitrary" by a teenager than have one of them point to a written contract and say "but you said these are the rules and nowhere in here does it say I can't try to jump the Corolla over the creek."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 11:16 AM

Forgot to add that Amy Nathan is writing a memoir (right, Amy?). So we will hear more from her in the future...

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 11:19 AM

Fred - where are you? Read what ArmyBrat wrote...nuff said.

Posted by: dotted_1 | November 27, 2007 11:21 AM

At the parent-teacher conference, younger DD was identified as "bright but stubborn." I wanted to respond with a snarky: "you say that as if it's a bad thing!" God help us, she doesn't like filling out worksheets. She can spend hours fishing around for the pencil she keeps dropping.
My two girls are different but not in a really dramatic way. Still, it helps to be sensitive to the differences.
Two kids are definitely more than twice the work when they are little. The high point of my life back then was the rare and cherished "Great Nap Overlap."
But my girls are the best of friends now and each other's constant companions. I can say: go away and play and they do.

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 27, 2007 11:26 AM

I just say to my kids "Go fight somewhere else" and they do.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 11:54 AM

LOL Leslie!

Posted by: anne.saunders | November 27, 2007 12:05 PM

One thing that's convenient about parenting multiple kids is that they will clobber each other enough throughout the day... so I don't have to clobber them myself.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | November 27, 2007 12:21 PM

When I had my first baby it was like a fairy tale. She was a little angel. Everything was so new and perfect. We were like the three people in a story book. HE went to work and I washed, cleaned and took care of the baby all day. She slept, ate and played. I pushed the carriage and off we went in the neighborhood for walks to stores and relatives that lived close by. It is a heavenly and wonderful memory. As she got older, she talked and we read stories and played outside with neighbor children. My husband worked many hours so it was mostly me and my baby girl. It was the sixties and we lived secluded away from the troubles of the world. Nap time came and went, holidays came and went and she grew even more delightful. It was a hard and lonley job with with my husband working so much --so we could live this little story. When she was seven years old we moved and a new baby came into our world and he was not well and so the days were harder as time went by. Times changed but I will always remember those very first years with my daughter. I will always remember our times alone but together in a world. She talked and walked and ran and played and sang and grew so smart and remarkable and it was a thrill to watch -- and a thrill to remember, today. The new baby settled down some time later and he was a love, too. However, with two children life changed forever.

Posted by: sarahn7008 | November 27, 2007 12:23 PM

dotted,

I am having trouble getting past thinking about Sean Taylor and his daughter today. Thanks for making me laugh. I assume that was a compliment, right, LOL? Generally, I try to only take down the bullies, which is why Leslie's comment was such an awesome zinger - to me.

Today is a sad one. I wish I were in DC today because my colleagues would "get it" without me having to explain.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 27, 2007 12:28 PM

WorkingMomX, I'm glad to hear you are so happy about having two. Since I'm leaning in that direction anyway I'm always glad to hear of someone else's happy ending. It seems strange to me how my confidence and energy have grown to fill the needs of being a mother to my first, maybe I should have a little faith that the same would happen with number two.

Amy I will definite check out your website, I'm eager to hear more.

Laura, the mashed potato thing teared me up. You have summarized my feelings exactly by what you said about your intense feelings for your daughter. I feel like I'm asking for lightning to strike twice in the same place, it's good to know that it can. Thanks.

Posted by: pinkoleander | November 27, 2007 12:29 PM

mn, it is a sad day. I've also had Riley Sawyers on my mind. I would like to throttle her her mother and whatever that guy was. I can't think of a punishment horrible enough. I really can't. It makes me physically ill to think of that little girl's final hours at the hands of the person who should have loved her best and protected her.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 27, 2007 12:31 PM

If you have a few kids, It's also nice to have the "racetrack" design in your house/apartment. The kids can chase each other through the kitchen, dining room, hallway, living room, kitchen, dining room, hallway...

And I've told them at least 100 times, "DADDY IS NOT BASE!", but they pile on anyway.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | November 27, 2007 12:41 PM

WorkingMomX, you are so right. I should not have read the summary of her mom's admissions. I truly cannot imagine the depravity in someone's soul to be able to hurt a child in this manner. Add that to the Pennsylvania college professor who might (ONLY) get 4.5 to 7 years for bludgeoning his wife to death and I've got the "this world stinks" blues today.

Gutless: do you ever tire of being the referee? I have two who desparately each want with every fibre of their beings for their sibling to get in trouble. We've squashed the tattling, but are left with trying to teach them each not to let themselves be manipulated by the other. I mistakenly thought I could rely on the schools, the village, and the government to handle this role. *deep sigh*

Posted by: mn.188 | November 27, 2007 1:08 PM

First, I know what I would have told the nurse. :)

Second, this is so true. My first baby slept through the night from the time I brought her home. My new little guy has acid reflux and is usually on me in my bed or in his bed on his "special cushion." Either way, he only sleeps for about four hours at a time. My first was quiet; he is so noisy it is hard to sleep. My daughter couldn't care less who held her, where I was or who we left her with. Never had a problem with her in day care. With my son, I can't get him off the boob or off me.

Congratulations foamgnome.

Posted by: Irishgirl | November 27, 2007 1:20 PM

Leslie, MN and others - I've resisted commenting on Sean Taylor because I've been taught never to speak ill of the dead. But a lot about that situation bothers me. Sean Taylor was raised largely by his father and step-mother. His father is the police chief of Florida City, FL, a small suburb of Miami. He had a stable, solid middle-class childhood. He had every opportunity handed to him because of his athletic talent.

He went to a top-notch private high school because of his football talent. He went to the University of Miami on a full scholarship because of his football talent. (Despite its athletic reputation as "Thug U.", Miami's actually a very, very good private university.) He was drafted by the Redskins and paid several million dollars over the course of his 4-year career.

Certainly, he worked very hard to be successful in football - his God-given talents were not sufficient. But at the same time, he had many things handed to him on a silver platter because of his talent, and he abused the privileges significantly. He was constantly in trouble on and off the field. He was arrested numerous times, and fined by the NFL several times for dirty play. He was not very popular with the Redskins players or coaches; largely, he was seen as a selfish, arrogant spoiled brat.

Yes, it's true that people are saying that once his daughter was born he started to grow up. He became more of a team player and more of an adult. He at least took care of his daughter and her mother. I would certainly hope that's true.

But look at the circumstances of his death. There was a break-in of his house a week ago; nothing was taken but a knife was left in his bedroom. This weekend, somebody broke into his house while he was home, broke down his locked bedroom door and shot at him twice (one shot missed). Ask yourself whether that sounds like a burglary gone awry, or more likely was it somebody who came to get him for whatever reason? And was the previous break-in a burglary with nothing taken, or a message?

Certainly, it's a terrible thing for the 18-month old daughter to be left without a father, and for her mother to have had to witness the shooting. Whoever did this deed deserves appropriate punishment. And it's indeed a terrible thing when any life is lost, possibly more so when it's someone so obviously young and talented who could have done so much.

But look at everything in totality, and don't make him out to be a saint because he played for your favorite football team.

(Well, maybe Fred could do that - sorry, bad pun.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 1:34 PM

Really nice guest blog! Thank you.

(Still contemplating two, or stay at one.)

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | November 27, 2007 1:39 PM

But look at everything in totality, and don't make him out to be a saint because he played for your favorite football team.

(Well, maybe Fred could do that - sorry, bad pun.)


Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 01:34 PM

I'm not making him into anything, but as you are free to demonize him as you choose, I am free to mourn those whose losses touch me. Have a good day.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 27, 2007 1:43 PM

MN, I make a terrible referee. for one thing, I rarely, if ever, assess penalties or enforce punishments. If one of my kids comes to me crying about an injustice another committed, I give the crying kid a timeout by comforting him/her until he/she has recovered. Since the older kids have the strength advantage over the younger ones as well as a better sense of fairness, I pretty much prescribe to the "might makes right" philosophy. Keeps things simple.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | November 27, 2007 1:57 PM

There is a lot of sadness in the news today. An entire family was wiped out - innocent children murdered by one of the two people who should have been keeping them safe.

"Pair in Murder-Suicide Clashed Over Custody

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2007; Page B01

Gail L. Pumphrey grew so concerned about meeting her former husband to hand off their three children that at one point last fall she demanded that those meetings occur only in public places with surveillance cameras, according to court records.

No such devices are in use at the last place they met, a tiny park in northern Montgomery County where police say David Brockdorff fatally shot Pumphrey and their children on Thanksgiving before committing suicide..."

Posted by: jackdmom | November 27, 2007 2:24 PM

jackdmom, I think about cases like this whenever I hear ideologues proclaiming the sanctity of the family unit over (shudder) community or government involvement in children's well-being. Where was the balance to protect this mother and children from doubly tragic murder, within their own family by someone who should have been trustworthy?

Posted by: mehitabel | November 27, 2007 2:40 PM

"If you have a few kids, It's also nice to have the 'racetrack' design in your house/apartment. The kids can chase each other through the kitchen, dining room, hallway, living room, kitchen, dining room, hallway..."

Posted by: GutlessCoward | November 27, 2007 12:41 PM

Not so sure this is such a great idea. Wait, let me look in the mirror . . . Yes, it's still there: the faint vertical scar from the time my brother and I were chasing each other around and around through the living room, dinette, kitchen and foyer of our fifth-floor apartment. I missed the doorway and split my forehead open against the steel door jamb. It's a good thing there was a doctor's office on the ground floor where he could sew up the wound.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | November 27, 2007 2:45 PM

As a side comment, I was a bit disturbed by the nurse's comment about keeping other babies awake and the guest blogger's comment about her new baby always crying.

What bothers me is that there may have been something quite treatable going on. In the olden days, doctors used to say that some babies were colicky and that's just the way it goes. While it is true that some babies cry more than others, no baby should be crying constantly.

When my son was born, although we were new parents, we decided that the constant crying was NOT normal. No, we had no frame of reference, but we weren't go to buy any BS about colic. So, we worked with our pediatrician and figured out that he had a milk protein allergy as well as serious acid reflux (one of the most common causes of "colic"). Through an elimination diet for my wife (since she breastfed) and through the use of strong prescriptions for the acid reflux, our baby went from a very unhappy little guy to a smiling, mostly happy baby (his reflux still gets him from time to time).

Anyway, this is almost a public service announcement, but I really want to urge parents not to just accept that it's normal for a baby to cry a lot if all their needs are getting met. That is, if the baby's well fed, not cold, being held and comforted, constant crying is a SIGN of something WRONG. Take action and don't give up until you find the cause of the problem. Make your little guy or girl a happy baby!

Posted by: rlalumiere | November 27, 2007 2:55 PM

rlalumiere,

It was all relative! Easy breezy baby to not such an easy breezy baby was a huge adjustment.

While it's all true...as with all babies, things changed with Chloe. I believe she was born "raring to go." With everything she was able to do she became happier and more content. She never required a lot of naps or sleep -- and still doesn't.

In no way did I allow her cry on end without trying to find out if something was wrong!

And - her father was a doctor - we were always very much on top of things, I assure you!

And she is a very happy and healthy young lady. Promise!!

:-)

Posted by: asng3017 | November 27, 2007 3:11 PM

jackdmom, that was really a tragic event. And I've wondered why they chose that park - given where the two parents lived, it doesn't look like it was particularly convenient for either of them or anywhere near to "halfway between." Seems like the killer had planned it way in advance. Such a tragedy.

Given concerns about violence, etc., I know of at least two couples who have to hand over the kids in public places. My BIL and his ex-wife can only meet at one of two designated shopping centers to exchange the kids.

And my niece is paid $20.00 per hour to babysit two kids during a handoff situation. The parents aren't even allowed to be in the same place at the same time because it's led to trouble in the past, so one parent drives the kids to a McDonald's, my niece meets them there and sits with the kids while that parent leaves. The other parent arrives about 30 minutes later (that's pre-coordinated). Yes, the people in McDonald's know what's going on. (My brother has talked to both parents because he was concerned about his own daughter's safety. Apparently, the parents are sane, normal people when they're not around each other; they just lose it totally when they see each other.) Such a sad, sad thing.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 3:13 PM

Good point, rlalumiere, and I'll second the 'don't give up until you find the cause.' When DS was 7 weeks old, the first doc thought DS had reflux, and was unphased (condescending even) by my insistence that something else was going on, that a baby shouldn't be barfing up every feeding (+ the meds that were supposed to help). Long story short, DS had emergency surgery to correct a defective stomach valve (i.e. pyloric stenosis)...and we found a new doc....

Posted by: kate07 | November 27, 2007 3:25 PM

La Lumiere,

that's just naive. Colic does exist, you know, and sometimes there's just nothing you can do. Not all causes of all things are identifiable and can be treated.

Posted by: StickyNote | November 27, 2007 3:26 PM

I have always wondered how 2 people can actually love each other enough to get married and have children, and then not be able to muster the strength to treat each other with decency after the marriage fails, especially when children are involved. I would hope that if my marriage died, that I would still be able to treat my husband like a human being, if not for his sake and mine, then for the sake of my children. I actually can't imagine handling it any other way. It just angers me that some people can't find a way to contain their rage, and let innocent children become witnesses and even victims of issues that they should never have been privy to. What a waste of energy and life.

Posted by: Emily | November 27, 2007 3:28 PM

I agree with you, Emily, but it happens way too often. Fortunately, actually killing or physically hurting the kids is rare, but I've seen way too many cases in my softball program where one parent is only too happy to do anything to spite the other parent, without regard to what happens to the kids. They're just "collateral damage."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 27, 2007 3:35 PM

Emily - I saw one of the best examples of respectful human behavior post-divorce in my high school friend's parents. Kids lived in the family home with dad, mom had an apartment and when dad traveled for business mom moved in. It probably helped that there were no step-parents or step-siblings. My mom actually thought my friend's parents were still married until she was politely corrected! The parents were one of those couples that was better as friends and they always parented as a team.

Posted by: tntkate | November 27, 2007 4:11 PM

In some ways it surprises me MORE when people split up and stay amicable "as a team." My thinking being, if you have enough love, respect and stability to function well together, why split up? That seems a shame...At the same time, I really respect people who cannot stand each other but who still treat each other with warmth and respect to set a good example for their children. Seems like true maturity -- all too rare! (And I'm not sure I could do it.)

Posted by: leslie4 | November 27, 2007 4:44 PM

It's funny, we had the pretty easy baby first (okay, so for about 6 weeks, someone had to be holding him 24/7, but even so, after that, he slept thru the night at 6 weeks, goes wherever, pretty easygoing). The second one is just more challenging - the dr. thought there was a problem when he was born cause his face was a little blue - there wasn't - he bruised it as he was (apparently, literally) climbing out to be born.

I talk with parents who have an easy going kid then a more difficult one and they always say they wouldn't have a second if the the first was like the second. I guess you get what you get and you live with it!

Having two is great - they play/fight/whatever with each other and love each other so much. So sweet (and terrible) to each other.

I grew up third of three - boy was it always chaos at the house! Mom always said that going from 2 to 3 was so much easier than from 1 to 2 cause my sisters would occupy each other - either playing or fighting, whatever, it didn't involve her. Of course, we had live in help til I was 5 - she never really mentioned that much :)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 27, 2007 5:51 PM

"I never had to worry about where my Doppler Girl was"

Laura,
This actually made me laugh out loud. I have my own nonstop chatterbox, and I may have to appropriate the nickname.

Posted by: newsahm | November 27, 2007 9:26 PM

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