Just a few short months ago, my husband and I welcomed our second child. There were a number of things we realized we didn’t do during the second pregnancy that we did with the first, like remembering to take those weekly belly pictures or scheduling that extra ultrasound to get those coveted profile shots of baby. With Baby #2, life was busier and those little things were pushed to the back burner to accommodate everything else going on.
I used to get frustrated with (and sometimes down on) myself for not doing everything the same way for #2. My husband would try to lighten the mood by shrugging and saying “second kid.”
It always made me uneasy when we’d use that phrase and, I admit, it took a few rounds of checking in with myself to learn why. To me, it implied a sense of laziness or that you cared less. I realized, however, the “second born syndrome” actually implies being wiser and more aware because you’ve been there before. It’s about experience.
Here’s a great example. New moms are notorious for demanding anyone who wants to hold their newborn to wash their hands. I’ve actually been around a few new moms who went a little more extreme and refused to let anyone in the same room as the new baby if they had a small cough (*ahem* guilty…). With the second, I admit, I was less demanding about hand washing. Sure, I was diligent and asked if someone wasn’t feeling well to not hold the newborn, but otherwise I was a bit more easygoing.
This isn’t because I cared less. It’s because I had experience with a newborn and I learned from it.
We learn from life’s experiences. They help us be better, wiser and sometimes saner the second time around. Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn stated that if we can be present to the information in this moment to learn what it is telling us, we can make our next moment better. We can use what we learn to be wiser, smarter, more confident and more supportive because experience shared something profound with us.
I don’t like the negative connotation associated with the phrase “second kid” or “second child syndrome.” Perhaps I could change it to more accurately reflect the type of parent I become when I intentionally tune in to each moment with every subsequent child: “second born experience.” Maybe this is a more productive way to see how we change and learn, and to appreciate the gift that experience regularly brings.
Important Questions from a Coach:
- How friendly and supportive is your self-talk?
- How can you be more mindful to intentionally tune in to the lessons life brings you to make each moment going forward even better?
- What is one thing you can do each day to make learning and experience a major focus?