More Kids Equals More Mediocrity
If you want to perform an interesting case study, go to any park or play-place one morning. You will see all different kinds of moms. (For the record, you will also see dads too. I think this is awesome. But dads just don’t provide the same level of anecdotes needed for these studies). See if you can guess which ones are first-time parents, and which have multiple kids. Clearly there are outliers, but I guarantee you that a majority of the hovering, helicopter-type mothers who are intently focused on their children are first-time parents. The others that you see glancing at their phones or sitting on a park bench staring off into space are mothers of more than one kid, enjoying the few seconds of peace and quiet before their child starts fighting with a sibling, throwing sand, running over with a boo-boo, or wandering out of eyeshot just far enough that the parent worries some nosy-body will say something or call CPS.
Why the paradigm shift? It’s because after one child, you have a great number of epiphanies. You realize that no one can go watching a child 24/7, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. This is especially true when you have more than one to watch. It just is not feasible to attend to noisy newborn Noah and toddling tantrum Tess at the same time, particularly if your significant other is not around. As a result, you been to embrace the “good-enough” style of parenting and let go of the “pinterest perfect” parenting that social media champions. You also begin to accept more help from others, particularly your significant other, that you may well have shunned the first go-round. So what if Tess’ outfit doesn’t match? At least your husband did it while you were trying to tend to the never-ending newborn screams of Noah.
As for the mothers in the park, the second plus timers have had another epiphany: when you get a break, take it. First-time parents are given all sorts of useful (sarcasm font) advice like “sleep when the baby sleeps”. This is pure bunk, even when you have just one. Who else is magically cooking, cleaning, and washing the never-ending laundry pile while the baby sleeps? I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be your husband. The advice becomes even more useless when you have a second child. Even if the first is only a toddler, I can guarantee that he or she will not have the same nap schedule as the newborn. And if you have a preschooler (or older), what exactly are you supposed to do with them while the baby sleeps? Tie them to a tree? (I have seriously considered it).
This same “take a break when you can get it” mentality extends to babysitters. With the first child, mothers wonder if even their own family members are qualified to watch the baby. Even grandparents, who raised you, are treated with suspicion. If baby is left at all with these people, a long list of helpful numbers, including the pediatrician and the local emergency room, along with detailed instructions on feeding, bathing and sleeping are included. By the second child, you are just too exhausted to care. You realize that one night away is not going to result in your children seeing a therapist for abandonment. You realize that the people who raised you are perfectly capable of taking care of the children for a few hours without your laundry list of instructions. That’s right grandma and grandpa-you do you.
I will admit that even with my first, I was not super anxious. Perhaps because she was a more difficult baby than most, I welcomed any break I could get. My parents would help when they could but they were going through their own medical issues. My husband’s parents do not live in the same area. So without family support, we had to make do a lot faster than other first-time parents do. Thus, while I was not going to leave her on the corner with the nearest homeless person, we did end up having some close friends take her from time to time.
I also learned to make do in certain situations that might have made other first-time parents run screaming. For example, on one occasion, my husband and I took her after work to a well-earned dinner treat at the very swanky place known as “Soup Plantation”. My daughter, who was generally constipated, chose this time to have one of her very few diaper blowouts. And of course, since my husband had the diaper bag last, the extra change of clothes was no more. I suppose other first-timers would have packed it up and headed home. But not for me. I was going to have my chocolate muffin warm. I picked her up, took her to the bathroom, cleaned her up, and improvised a lovely sarong out of a pink blanket. She sat happily munching on the muffin for the rest of the meal.
Needless to say, by the time my second came, I was even less phased. On one occasion, swamped by new baby duties and work, my daughter (now in preschool) had a trash-less lunch day for Earth Day. And while I completely understand what they are trying to get across, the whole thing is kind of pointless. So you unwrapped the cheese at home and put it in a bento box. You still made trash-at home. Dutifully I cobbled together what I could using our various non-matching array of Tupperware. But I did not have any cloth napkins or washcloths handy. So I simply tore off a paper towel and hand-wrote on it “Sorry-I didn’t have time to do laundry. But hey, I saved water.” (Ok, sometimes I can be a total ass-hat),
Thus, by the time my third arrived last year, I just had no desire for perfection left. I was (am?) sleep-deprived, hangry, and over-extended in every way. I now have a grade-schooler, a preschooler, and a newborn. I also work. The bad news is that you are going to get the bare minimum from me. The good news is that I don’t give a crap, so I really don’t care what you think anyways. I try to get to the things that absolutely have to be done first, like a nurse in a triage unit. Semi-important things are currently lagging three to four months behind. And as far as the things I deem “fluff and nonsense”: sorry, not doing it.
I don’t necessarily think this increasing mediocrity is a bad thing, though. With each child comes a greater awareness and more clarity. I can focus on the things that truly matter, and let go of the things that don’t. For me, it works. So if more kids equals more mediocrity, I will welcome it!
I am mediocre mom!
Latest posts by Wendy Marcus (see all)
- THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH LEGOS - April 25, 2017
- Examining Equality in the Practice of Law: The Scales of Justice are Still Not Balanced - April 8, 2017
- Dear America:I think it’s time to consider a divorce - January 26, 2017