And Bingo Was His Name-O

By Beck

The Baby has an Easter party to go to tomorrow. I’ve already made trays of bunny cupcakes, since I’m always on the snack list because a) she has celiac disease and b) because she’s my third kid and I’m pretty calm about making snacks for kid parties at this point.

All of the other kids in her little group are firstborns, and the differences between the way that you parent as a first-time mother and the way you parent when this is your third kid is pretty immense. When The Girl was The Baby’s age, another child in her nursery school was the third child in a family and his mother would come strolling in relaxed at the end of class, instead of rushing in as early as possible like all of the first-time mothers (me among them), convinced that their darlings had melted away without them. And at the time, it astonished me that any mother could ever be that calm about their child and now I come strolling in when nursery school is over myself.

This would have shocked me, had I known that it was possible seven years ago. At the time, my frantic need to be with my oldest child as much as possible felt like the only real expression of maternal love and concern and now, of course, I know that I love my third goober every bit as much as I loved my firstborn, but the frantic edge to my love has been worn away by time and necessity. Of course, I’m much more relaxed in every possible way as a parent and so my firstborn – who had every part of her behaviour scrutinized – is a totally well-behaved kid and my third kid is kind of… um, not? (she is, I hurry to say, pretty well-behaved, but very, very loud.)

We don’t have any idea how motherhood will change us, even after we have been mothering for a while. My first few frantic years as a mother felt like reality itself and instead I spent yesterday eating candy with The Baby and lazily singing little kid songs with her, the kind that involves clapping your hands and singing out I-N-G-OH. And the melancholy subtext to all of this is that I’m down to my last few months as a mother with a young child at home, and I can barely stand it. My brain keeps scrambling to find ways to make this not true: I could keep her home till she’s six! I could homeschool her! I could have another baby! Oh, it’s sad.

I know who I am as a mother right now. Ten years down the road, The Girl will likely be off on her own adventures – and I’m not going to even dwell on that for a second, thanks – and who knows who I’ll be then, what motherhood will feel like when the days of cupcakes and nursery songs are long over? My comfort right now is that you don’t guess what motherhood feels like until you’re actually in it, and so maybe that time will come with its own bittersweet happiness, the very same bittersweet happiness that I’m feeling now as the last days of babyhood count themselves irrevocably down, as some very sweet and very hard times in my life quietly end.


20 Responses to And Bingo Was His Name-O
  1. Nowheymama
    April 9, 2009 | 9:31 am

    Hmmm… maybe we should have a fourth baby….

  2. slouching mom
    April 9, 2009 | 9:37 am

    I’ve been feeling some of these same things. But it’s coming up much sooner for me than for you…

  3. His Girl Amber
    April 9, 2009 | 9:45 am

    Ah, I know exactly what you mean. Amazing what time and perspective can do to your parenting style. I think it’s at least 80 percent an improvement (the other 20 percent involves the lack of scrapbooks of the 2nd and 3rd and the exciting playgroups and things that my firstborn experienced because there was just one of him)and I am so glad to not feel so frantic at last.

  4. PastormacsAnn
    April 9, 2009 | 10:22 am

    Boy, I just need to enjoy this time I have with my little ones instead of “enduring” it and I don’t know why I haven’t been – because I see and know that these days are fleeting. The realization and my panic that my oldest will be gone and on her own in just a few short years should be reminder enough. Sigh

    Nice post Beck. (good use of those early morning hours!)

  5. Tracy
    April 9, 2009 | 10:59 am

    With two of mine leaving the nest within the next 4-5 months, things are changing alot. And yet, I find myself so much more relaxed than I could have ever imagined. I’m so glad that my baby still loves to be cuddled, though she’s 10 1/2. It helps too, to think that I could be a grandma in the next year or so.

  6. Nicole
    April 9, 2009 | 11:23 am

    Great post! I think it’s great how parenting styles relax with the addition of more children. Imagine how high-strung we would be if we focused as much attention on milestones on our subsequent children as we did on our first!

    Enjoy the next few months, and know that you are doing a great job as a mother, and you will still be doing a great job when the Baby is at school. It will just be different.

  7. SSbeacon
    April 9, 2009 | 12:43 pm

    Good post, Beck.

    As a new mom I didn’t associate with other new moms — but took immense pleasure in the company of moms with elementary aged kids. They had PERSPECTIVE. They had KNOWLEDGE. They had this vague zen-like quality. Alas — I am NOT there yet.

  8. Carrie of Ceaseless Praises
    April 9, 2009 | 2:09 pm

    Oh, I hope I get more relaxed someday! My MIL had 3 boys, and when we’re together on vacation or she visits, I’m so impressed by how she’s so relaxed with his schedule, etc. and yet he still does fine…and I know I need to relax, but maybe it will come with time. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. Alison
    April 9, 2009 | 2:55 pm

    It’s so true! I do find myself so much more relaxed with my son than I used to with his sister. I try to remember to chill out when it comes to her, although she will still experience all the milestones first, because I was a firstborn and my mother was so determined to be a perfect parent that it didn’t do me any favors in life.

  10. Heidi
    April 9, 2009 | 5:01 pm

    As soon as you are comfortable with motherhood, something is going to change.

  11. candace
    April 9, 2009 | 5:18 pm

    I think if even we decided to have anymore I would still be the same way I am now: Relaxed, certain things are important, i.e healthy food-limited junk food, I am not a helicopter mom like some first-time moms. I realized a long time ago if I let him branch out-like preschool on his own he might just be okay. But I am always there if he needs me. It also helps he very independant and wants to do things on his own.

  12. Martha C
    April 9, 2009 | 8:35 pm

    I am so with you on this! I am so much more laid back with my third! I have a friend that just had her third and she is amazed at how I handle everything and I always say, I just handle it. You can’t make yourself crazy about the little things (including the youngest not knowing nursery rhymes or fun songs!).

  13. Lisa b
    April 9, 2009 | 10:20 pm

    I love that worm in the apple!

  14. Jennifer
    April 9, 2009 | 11:59 pm

    I tell people I’ve “mellowed.” I don’t have the energy to be zealous anymore – for most stuff anyway – and surprisingly, I like the mellower me better.

    Note: I’m not MELLOW. I’m mellowER. Big huge difference since I started out as a control FREAK. If I read Baby Wise and couldn’t do every single subpoint correctly every single time, I was a mess. Good times.

    From experience, I’d say that you’re right – parenthood brings with it so many changes that you’d never, ever expect… so many bends in the road… that I’ve finally learned to look ahead at least as much as I look back. And with hope and anticipation, not dread.

    When I was pregnant, I never once dreamed of having teenagers. It just wasn’t in the grand vision. 🙂

    But you know what? They’re kinda fun! I mean, it’s stressful, too, but so are toddlers. I think it’s six one way half a dozen the other… costs and benefits on all sides of those 5, 10, and 13 year markers.

    When my baby first started losing his baby fat I went into an “I’m not ready for this to be over” phase. And now he’s 7, tall and lean… he makes his own peanut butter sandwiches, and gives himself a bath. Once that initial fear faded, I realized that this is fun, too. And now I can say, “I’ve had my kids, now it’s time to raise them,” like my friend told me once. And I can say it without flinching now… which is amazing.

    You never know, you never know. Life is surprising.

  15. mimi
    April 10, 2009 | 7:44 am

    Crap, Beck. I have these ideas, which I diligently suppress and keep smiling, and then you feel that same way too and I go all, oh damn, it is like that after all.

    Introspection is sometimes a real pain.

    Cupcakes, on the other hand, bring nothing but good, and even a 20 year old firstborn is always going to be there for that … (RIGHT???? RIGHT????)

  16. edj
    April 10, 2009 | 9:40 am

    It’s so true! I spent some time with a mom who has only one child, and the difference in her parenting and mine was vast. My child would cry and she would panic and fly up out of the chair and I would cock my ear and say, “Oh that’s just an annoyed cry. They will let us know if they need us.”

    And while I miss being the mother of young kids, I absolutely LOVE being the mother of older kids. Don’t worry Beck. You will too. Each stage has it’s advantages, and they are so much fun now PLUS they do dishes!

  17. Omaha Mama
    April 10, 2009 | 4:57 pm

    I’ve missed you. 🙂 I thought I’d sneak over on this good, good Friday.
    Thinking about who I’ll be as a mother in 10 years, 20 years even, it excites me very much. I imagine myself much cooler, much more rational by then.

  18. name
    July 29, 2009 | 6:53 am

    Best Wishes,

    April 5, 2012 | 7:29 pm

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