Friday, October 19, 2012

different love.

I was talking to a friend casually about adjusting to life as a family of four. "It's different with the second, isn't it?" She asked with a warm smile. It is different on almost every level imaginable, but some things are easy to explain. I'm not scared anymore. I trust he will live. I don't run out of the shower soaking wet or drop my fork when I hear a single cry. Sometimes it's a single cry. Gas or something. And I can wash the soap out of my hair or finish shoveling down that curry.
Very quickly, quite naturally my friend and I were talking about loving our children differently.
Loving my daughter is an experience in intensity. She always cried. She seemed to be eternally suffering as an infant. A sensitive infant grew into a spirited independent toddler. "She's so funny." I add. Because I feel that every part of her character is like a coin. It is the same stubborn desire that leaves her desperate to get into every pantry and closet to take out every box of cereal and shoe to explore to that drives her to explore every toy and leaf and rock. That same trait I find so maddening I am in hopeless adoration of. The sensitivity that leaves her howling nearly every time I shut her on the other side of the baby gate is the generosity of spirit that inspires to her kiss her baby brother endlessly murmuring "It's okay baby. It's okay." Just as I do with her when she cries.
When Wendy was an infant loving her was like loving a baby bird that had fallen out of a nest. She was tiny and red faced, and often seemed surprised and frightened. I can still hear her colicy cries which I would cry along with. I can still remember feeling flushed and sweaty and anxious as she still screamed the house down at 3 months, and 6 months, and a year, and 18 months. She always seemed to be unhappy, overstimulated, or in pain, and I was powerless to help her. All I could do was try to soothe her, and honestly I had no idea if it made any difference to her. And finally at 20 months... peace. And she began to repeat the utterances I had said to her so many sleepless nights. "Oh, it's okay baby. I know baby I know." Now she says it to me, to her father, to her little brother. Like a testament to patience and endurance in parenting. But I still love her with a ferocity and possessiveness that a situation like that inspires.
In my second pregnancy I was worried at times how I could love another baby as much as I loved Wendy, and then I wondered if I would have a baby who was not quite so high need as Wendy. Would I love them more? How could I live with myself in my own head if I loved one of babies more than the other?
And then came Benji. Loving my son is pure tenderness. I have never encountered a more placid creature. He nurses and naps. He rarely cries mostly cooing and grunting to express his wants. He seems content to wait patiently as needed. He loves a good snuggle and sleeping on my chest. His cries are usually brief and followed by a hilariously juicy sounding fart. I love him like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer. He seems to lower my blood pressure with his snuggles. I love him gently.
I never imagined it would be this simple. Loving them is easy. I love them just like I vowed to love my husband when we married.
"because of who they are and not in spite of it."
And I know them. And I love them. Fiercely. Genuinely. Gently. Always. There is no comparing. It is like asking myself if I love the sun more than the moon. ridiculous.
"It's easier for mothers who can admit they love them differently." She said. I believe her.

1 comment:

  1. I love the uniqueness and the familiarity of your post. I am constantly amazed at how different my 3 year old and my 5 month old are, and how my relationship with them is so different. You put into words exactly what I think. It's nuts, having two! In a good way!