In Defense of The Second ChildAllana Harkin
Living in an urban setting and amongst fellow parents who both work and live busy lives, many of my peers are more than happy to have one child. But every once and a while, biology rears its head (as it does) and not so subtly screams: “HAVE ANOTHER! COME ON! DO IT. DO IT. DO IT.” And ultimately my peers start to ponder the logic of having another baby. To which I am instantly extremely impressed that the idea of “logic and baby making” still coexists for them which means another baby is definitely going to happen.
I tell my friends how the combination of two children is wonderful. They play with each other when I need to do essential things like boil water and they still bring me to tears when I watch them holding hands while walking down the street. It’s beautiful, and I do everything in my power to be extremely positive about the experience. That is, until someone says, which they inevitably do, that they heard from “so-and-so” that having two children is really no different than having one child. I mean, when you do it once you’ve basically got the foundation in place. Right?
Let’s pause there. Okay, I’m back.
First of all, I take this as a compliment. I was never the kind of new mother who left her house looking like an advertisement for formula feeding. In fact ,more than once after having children and catching my reflection in the mirror I thought to myself: This is exactly how I’d look if I was lost in the Equatorial Rain Forest as a child, raised by Orangutans and rescued sometime in my early 30’s looking a little feral with her shirt on backwards. To think that my friend thought that having two children seemed maybe the same as one meant that I was looking pretty damn great. (Note: Don’t look too closely for the logic in this statement).
But to properly answer the question at hand I really did need to make it not about me and more about the truth. That, it’s actually a whole lot more work in the range of about 100% more work to have two children.
Wait. Let’s start talking about me again.
I’m a second child and now that I’m a mother myself I think my own mother was actually being serious when she used to (somewhat lovingly) repeat to me over and over again that I was a lot more work than my older sister. In my defense, my sister had three full years to relax in the 2 parent-to-1 child love triangle before my birth. In addition I also had to compete with the family dog for attention and it’s without a doubt that my mother liked the dog better. To complicate the matter I can’t imagine why my sister would have remotely enjoyed having me in the picture. I took up my parents time, was a bit of crib escaper and was incredibly cross eyed therefore garnering enormous amounts of pity.
But this is not a sad story. As the second child I eventually proved to be handier than the family dog. I learned to use the vacuum, cleaned the bathroom on a regular basis and after a couple operations my eyes eventually straightened themselves out. Plus the dog died – so big win there!
Being a second child means that my parents have double the chance of someone caring about them when they need it most. They realized this a few years ago and I must say have been really nice to me. Like, best parents ever nice. They even laugh (nervous – but still!) at my jokes about how I’m going to start putting my name on items of furniture from their house that I want. Ha ha ha!
So is having another child worth it? Absolutely. And to prove my love I’ve never purchased a family pet for my daughters to compete with. Plus, every once and a while my second child drops a pearl of wisdom that truly gives me pause. Wisdom such as: “You can invite friends over and you don’t have to punch them in the face.” I’m sorry, but that’s bumper sticker inspirational. Would I have known that had I not had child number two? Doubtful.
Go forth, one-rs. Be safe, multiply and refrain from getting pets.
Love your friend and second child 4 life,
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