Being the mom to three young kids ages 5 and under, I often find myself reflecting on how different my parenting is now with my 3rd than it was with my 1st. So, here are 5 of the most glaring differences between my first-time-mom self and my seasoned third-time-mom status.
1. The Diaper Blowout:
FIRST KID: Carefully remove the shirt, trying desperately not to get poop on his face or in his hair, even though it's unavoidable. Promptly give baby a full bath. Scrub the shirt to remove stain from oh-so-stainable infant poop. Soak shirt in Oxyclean for 12 hours, then wash.
SECOND KID: Remove shirt as carefully as possible knowing he's going to get poop on him. Give him a good clean up with a few wipes. Toss shirt in the laundry and hope the stains come out.
THIRD KID: Cut shirt off with scissors and toss in trash. Change non-poop-covered baby. He's as good as new!
(Only recently did that whole “oh! The collars on Onesies are like that so you can roll the shirt down instead of take it over their head” thing go viral. So, yeah, I had no idea about that….but, it probably wouldn’t have changed anything anyway. I’d still be throwing Onesies away at this point.)
2. Books I’ve read about “How To Get the Baby to Sleep.”
FIRST KID: Allllllll of them. Every. Single. Freakin’. One.
SECOND KID: The one my Sister-in-law swears worked miracles for her son.
THIRD KID: None. And I threw away all the other ones I read before with the other two. Nope, I wouldn’t even donate them. No parent out there needs to worry that much about their kid’s sleep.
(To be clear, this change is not because I became some “master of getting my kids to sleep” by reading all those books. Noooooo, definitely not. I just don’t care anymore. I’ve accepted the fact that my children do not sleep through the night until at least 14 months, and I am OK with that).
3. People who have seen my boobs (while nursing):
FIRST KID: The baby. My husband. Maaaaaaybe my mom.
SECOND KID: The baby. My husband. My older son. Definitely my mom, probably my sisters-in-law.
THIRD KID: The baby, my husband, my two older kids, my mom, my sisters-in-law, my dad, the pediatrician, the UPS guy, the old lady who came up to talk to us while my older two were feeding the ducks, the numerous guys at the construction site we frequent daily to watch the trucks, the nice woman in the coffee shop at the train station (that we also frequent daily to watch the trains), and maaaaaybe my brothers (but probably not. Some things will always just be weird).
4. Questions I have for the Pediatrician at well visits:
FIRST KID: Soooooooo many. And they were typed out, on a neat list, that I printed the night before. I brought two copies. One that had been neatly glued in my “Baby’s 1st year” notebook so that I could take notes, and one so that the pediatrician could have a copy, because clearly, he needed a copy of my questions.
SECOND KID: None.
THIRD KID: Lots. But they are all about my oldest. I’ve done this baby stuff before. But I’ve never done this 5 year-old stuff before! I’m still a “first time Mom” to him. Basically, well visits for the baby are just an opportunity to get the advice of a doctor I have grown to love and respect tremendously over the years. I might need to keep having kids just so I can have regular advice sessions with him. I mean seriously, when my youngest is 2 am I really expected to go an ENTIRE year without the reassurance he provides that I’m not completely screwing up my kids?
5. Visits to the Pediatrician outside of Well-visits during the first year:
FIRST KID: None. Seriously, I thought I was a freaking rock star! I mean, not one ear infection, not one stomach bug, not one case of pink eye! I was mom of the year! Clearly, my kid’s awesome health was because I was DOING IT ALL RIGHT!
SECOND KID: 37. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but it felt like that. My oldest still never gets sick. My second gets a fever if you look at him crooked and has an uncanny ability to catch every cold in a 20 mile radius. They were both breastfed. Don’t let anyone tell you your kid does or doesn’t get sick because of the breast or the bottle. Some just don’t. And some do. And some get the benefit of an older sibling who shares allllll the germs.
THIRD KID: None. We’re only at month 8. But so far, no “sick” visits. But this isn’t because he hasn’t been sick. For the first 4 months of his life I felt like he had a constant cold. But my threshold for concern is much lower. (That visit to the ER doesn’t count, right?)
Whether you’re a first time, a third time, or a sixteenth time mom, this parenting thing has a constant and steep learning curve. Don’t be too hard on yourself no matter where you are on that curve. Some days it is easier. Some days it feels endless. But chances are, you’re doing just fine.