I often wonder what my experience with my first son would have been like, had I been a second-time parent the first time around. As a first-time parent, I was anxious, stressed, neurotic, obsessive and depressed. Everything had to be exactly right or I would burst into tears, fly into a rage, or be so upset that I would ruin my whole day.
I’m not an entirely different parent with my second son than I was with first, but I’m much more relaxed about almost everything. Things that would have derailed my day are now merely a frustrating blip.
When my first son wouldn’t nap, I would spend an hour and half pushing him around and around the block in his stroller because he needed to have his nap that day, dammit, and I was going to make it happen. Now when my second son doesn’t nap? Oh well, we do something else and try again later.
I’m a (mostly) easy-going parent now. I’m a sillier parent. I’m a happier parent.
So what changed? What did I learn?
1. Almost everything can and should be bought used.
2. Pacifiers don’t need to be sterilized every night.
3. You can save on cleaning a bowl by pouring Cheerios directly onto the floor.
4. Nothing accelerates a tantrum more than a yelling parent.
5. Doing something silly will often break tension and create smiles.
6. Taking a deep breath and a step back, is actually really good advice.
7. It’s important to see your husband as your husband, not just your child’s daddy.
8. It’s imperative to remember who you are as a person, not just a parent.
9. The time, energy and money required for maintaining a marriage is worth it, exponentially.
10. It’s not always worth it to buy name-brand diapers.
11. If the baby soaks through the overnight diapers, it’s time to go up a size.
12. It’s easier to prevent diaper rash than treat it.
13. It’s normal to cry randomly over trivial things.
14. But, it’s not normal to cry hysterically every day, several times a day.
15. Anti-depressants can be a life-preserver to a drowning mom suffering from postpartum depression.
16. Each thing is not everything.
17. A refused meal is not a big deal.
18. A missed nap is not the end of the world.
19. A hard hour doesn’t have to mean a hard rest of the day.
20. People will forgive you for being late, for having a messy house, or not sending thank you notes on time.
21. No one judges you as hard as you judge yourself.
22. In the grand scheme of things, almost none of the stuff you make yourself crazy about matters.
23. There’s no such thing as too many pictures.
24. Some days you have to marvel at little fingers that won’t be little forever.
Because another thing I learned the second time around is that the clichés are true — the days are long but the years are short.
Image source: ThinkStockMore On