Wednesday, July 14, 2004

When is the adjustment hardest?

Some friends and I have been talking recently about what the hardest adjustment is -- going from zero kids to one, from one to two, from two to three or beyond. The modern trend being what it is, most people can't hazard much of guess past two, but I'm sure Terry, Tulipgirl and Angie have some feelings on the subject of three or more.

I'm going to find out soon enough what it is like having three, but for now I can only blather on about what it was like to go from none to one and from one to two, and I still haven't made up my mind which was more difficult.

I think in some ways going from zero to one was more difficult -- the baby stage seemed to take longer and The Boy was not a good sleeper at night and nursed all the time. But having only one kid was easier when it came to going places. We just took him along and he slept wherever and it was easy enough to carry him, because he was the only kid I had to worry about. With The Girl the baby stage flew past in a blink and she slept through the night at 4 months or so, so I wasn't as exhausted -- except that by then The Boy wasn't napping any more and so I often couldn't either. I found though that I couldn't carry her as much as I carried her brother. I had to use a stroller more, because I couldn't carry her, even in a sling, and chase her brother or hold his hand or whatever I needed to do as easily.

At first it was easier to get right back into things and out of the house with two, I don't think I left home alone with just The Boy for over a month, but because I needed to do things with The Boy, like going to story time I was out with both kids by myself within two weeks -- but it was more complicated -- two carseats to buckle -- more variables to worry about.

But when The Girl needed to nurse, I couldn't pay as much attention to The Boy. I could read him a book, but that was about it and very soon his sister started grabbing or kicking the books away so that I couldn't easily even do that. By that time though, I was used to some of the other complications, so things were always changing. And amidst all the greater complications of two there were some things that were easier -- I knew how to feed a kid and remembered how to nurse a newborn quickly. I knew things were going to change, so I could see the light at the end of certain tunnels.

But I think if I had to choose which has been harder two has probably been more difficult than one due simply to personality. The Boy was -- except for sleeping through the night -- a much easier going kid. He took a pacifier for a few months. He was willing to go wherever we went and travelled well. He never thought about climbing the walls/furniture/etc. until he was much older, he didn't color on himself or books, and he never tried to eat pet food.

The Girl was fussier and more determined and opinionated from the day she was born. She wouldn't take a pacifier. She liked things just so and she would and will let you know when it doesn't meet her standards. And now she is not only a chatterbox like her brother, but a monkey in motion all the time. Basically she thinks she's a 4-year old in a 1.5 year old body. And all that requires a lot more readjustment. We can't take her to restaurants easily like we did her brother, she won't sit in the high chair and hasn't for a year. Neither will she wear a bib, so her clothes are generally food stained. She already goes around with her shoes on the wrong feet and clothes that look funny, because she had to put them on herself or pick them out. The house has to be cleaner, because anything left on tables, countertops, or anywhere out in the open is subject to inspection, use or being thrown on the floor and broken.

So maybe adding a second child was not totally more difficult for me because of the number, but more because of the specific child, but either way it has been a challenge and I wonder what this next one will be like.

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