To say that I documented each of my first son’s milestones would be an understatement.
I took an embarrassing number of pictures of Max, scrapbooked, had cards made on Shutterfly and completed (almost) every part of his baby book. But you know how every parent tells you that the second child never gets the same amount of attention? Well, they’re right – sort of.
Case in point: the first haircut. For Max, his first haircut was planned. It was a Saturday morning and my husband and I both giddily took Max in the backyard, explained what we were doing as we snapped ‘before’ pictures and then painstakingly used the special ‘children’s haircut scissors’ to cut his little blonde hairs. Then we took several after pictures (I didn’t save the hairs – I’m just not a fan of storing hair in a box as a keepsake) and, of course, I scrapbooked about it.
And then there was Jack.
A few weeks ago we were parking outside my sister-in-law’s wedding when I turned and looked at my shaggy-headed, 1-year-old Jack. His hair had gotten out of control so I asked my mom, who was with me, if she had scissors and a few snips later, voila! A respectable little haircut! And then it hit me: What about pictures?? What about scrapbooking? I forgot ‘before’ pictures! This was clearly what people were talking about with that second child syndrome stuff…
So, I did what any sane person would do: I grabbed my camera and chased the blowing hair around the parking lot. Yup. It was a high point for me. But by crackies, my second child was going to have the same darn memories as my first!!!
The problem with that small freak-out moment is that providing the same memories for all of your children is just not possible. The simple fact is that I’m not the same person I was five years ago when Max was hitting his first milestones. I had a little more time, a different house, a different job and five less years of running myself ragged. But I also know that Jack comes out ahead in some areas: now five years later I know more about parenting so I do a lot less guessing! Now I know about setting aside playtime, about building it into my routine so that each boy gets my attention. And for the record, I’m still doing the scrapbook page. Granted, I probably won’t do it for another few years and it won’t have a ‘before’ picture, but he’ll have a page just the same.
So to all those moms out there who put so much pressure on yourselves to give all of your children the same memories: cut yourself a break. Do your best and take time to enjoy their childhoods. That will make the best memories of all.
Aleshia Howe is a Senior Communications Specialist for Texas Health Resources and Mom to two boys.