If Jane Austen’s life had taken a different path and she’d ended up writing a parenting book (bear with me) she probably would have started it with:
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a parent in possession of one child, must be in want of a second because that one will be easier.’
That certainly seems to be the received wisdom anyway. Fortunately for society’s collective opinion, I did want a second child but – unfortunately – he didn’t get the memo about things being easier! As soon as I announced I was pregnant with F, I was practically promised that he would be one of those placid, self-soothing, doesn’t-need-much-attention babies that everyone has the second time round.
And in some ways, parenting the second time round is easier. I know how to bath a baby….I’ve already mastered the one-handed toast buttering…and my social life disappeared long ago, so there is no hankering for the ‘good old days’.
But the actual baby? Nope, he is definitely not easier.
I always had my suspicions that it wouldn’t be the case because my daughter was actually – in the grand scheme of things – quite an easy baby. Obviously I didn’t appreciate that at the time because nothing feels easy about having a new living person thrown into your life that you’re expected to look after on zero sleep. It was clear from the get go that she wasn’t one of those seemingly mythical babies that sleeps through the night and only feeds every four hours, but she was pretty chilled. She liked nothing more than kicking back on her play mat, enjoying a lengthy afternoon siesta and generally being entertained by life around her.
Her brother? Not so much.
For starters, he doesn’t nap unless you hold him in a certain way and then only for twenty minutes as long as you don’t move. And life that unfolds around him is generally considered a bore. To be fair, he does like his play mat – as long as you look him directly in the eye. Don’t look away though or he’ll shout at you. And yes I mean shout, not cry. I didn’t even know a twelve week old could holler ‘MUM’ but he can.
So be warned – there is no guarantee that your second child will be happy bouncing in a chair for hours on end while you tend to your eldest. Luckily they’ll still be cute because some days (and nights) that really is their only saving grace.