Monday, January 28, 2013

Zen and the Art of 2nd Child Mainteance

I admit it.  As first time parents 5 years ago, Mrs. LIAYF and I were a wee bit high strung about parenting Lukas.

We were your prototypical urban professional new parents who worried about every little thing and, assuming we could over-achieve our way to successful parenting, we attempted to do just that. Anytime Lukas fussed, or cried, or made a move to another room once he was mobile, we were right there to help him, guide him, or when needed - solve his problems.  No, we didn't do everything for him, but we were there without delay at all times.

In fact, we were so intent on doing everything the RIGHT way as parents, that we were driving ourselves bit batty at times.  We were seriously intense, and often on edge.   However, we kept this very close watch on our son for most of the next few years, always doing things as a threesome.  Never actually letting him out of our sight.  And I mean that much more literally than you might expect.  We didn't worry that he was getting into a bottle of cleaning supplies, because we always had eyes on him.

We've all heard of helicopter parents.  Well, I was essentially Roy Scheider in Blue Thunder.

No, this is not the part of the post where I tell you how detrimental this has been to our son.  That's not where I am going here. In fact, if you read this blog regularly you will understand that Lukas is a wonderful boy.  Amazing really.  He is loving, empathetic, compassionate, inquisitive, and funny.  And that's just scratching the surface.  To put it in clear terms, Mrs. LIAYF and I couldn't be more happy with the way our son has turned out nearly 6 years later.

But now that we have a second child, we realize that we just can't do it the same way again.  Parenting with as much intensity that is.  Maybe it's because we are both in our 40's now and even more tired than before (if that is physically possible.) Or maybe it's because we are just mentally drained from all we have put into raising Lukas.  But, if we try to parent the same way with 2 kids in the house we would find it impossible to achieve.

We both realize this, and so we are approaching this experience a bit differently.

With Annabelle's arrival, Mrs. LIAYF and I have become noticeably more Zen in our parenting approach.  Perhaps it's out of necessity.  Perhaps it's because Annabelle is a better sleeper at this stage than Lukas was 5 years ago.  Perhaps it's because we are now experienced parents, and know what WON'T happen if we are not doing things perfect.  But whatever the reason, we are not nearly as stressed this time around.

One example of this took place a couple of weeks ago while I was still on paternity leave.  With Annabelle and Lukas in the car I drove into the city to pick up Mrs. LIAYF from work.  Annabelle had been sleeping nicely in the car, but once her mother got in, she woke up, and was hungry.

Unfortunately, I had no extra bottle to give her, so we had to wait until we got home for her to eat.  Of course, she began to wail and scream. Loudly!  Thankfully we were only 15 minutes from home.

Then we hit a back-up on the freeway. The car slowed to a stop.  And Annabelle started screaming with renewed vigor!

And, as she screamed and cried the intensity in the car became more pronounced. Lukas began to cover his ears.  It was then that I looked at Mrs. LIAYF, and she looked back at me.  And we both started to laugh uncontrollably.

The absurdity of the situation warranted it.  Of course, this made Lukas laugh too.  And after a few minutes, Annabelle screamed herself out, and was none the worse off for waiting that extra time to eat.

A few years ago, a similar situation may have put us both over the edge, second guessing ourselves, lamenting about it, and feeling like horrible parents.  But this time....not so much really.  We made a note to always have one more bottle in the bag than we think we need.  And we have.

Similarly, there have been many other day to day situations we have encountered as parents of a newborn that we are not getting ourselves worked up over.  We just take note, take a breath, and deal with them.  I have to tell you, it's a lot easier this way.  And I still think we are doing a fantastic job as parents to a newborn.  And a five year old too.   Plus, I think this new attitude has benefited both of them in at least one important way.

If their parents aren't stressed out and on edge, everyone can laugh more, love more, and enjoy ourselves more each and every day.

And we all know the positive benefits that can bring.


daniel said...

It benefits the kids too. They learn that **** happens and you survive. You wind up learning to focus on what is important, not the minutia of "parenting" (or what you think that is supposed to be).

Diplo_Daddy said...

Very true. If we had had a second child, things would be a whole lt different. But I must tell you, as I raised our son, I tried diligently not to become too worried over the simplest of things, especially those things I had absolutely no control over.

You're doing fine!

Juli said...

Children are like exponents. Adding more is not so much as adding as it is multiplying. Be thankful for the large age gap... mine were only 16 months apart, and the word tag team doesn't even describe it.

In the end, you do the best you can with what you have... and laughter will ALWAYS get you through the rest.

Dan said...

We recently had our third. We keep her in a shed out in the garden. I'm sure she's fine.

Slamdunk said...

Oh wow, your story brought back travel memories for me.

I can remember driving back from our in-laws house (usually a 2 hour drive) with the older boy and grumpy twins when we hit a monster traffic jam. We finally got off the Interstate and took back roads--listening to screaming and crying the whole way. We finally found a gas station to stop and let older boy buy anything he wanted--I think he was just happy the store was silent when he went in.

Each additional time around certainly does change things for us parents.

anordinarydad said...

we went through the same thing when Pax was born. Totally different parenting mode.

Just let me know when you've finally resorted to go to McDonald's for happy meals :)