I knew that inserting a baby into the marriage would change things. How could it not? Think about it: suddenly you have a new member of the species, barely out of the shrink wrap, now wholly under your care. Imagine the responsibility.
Gone were the days where at a moment’s notice we could pack an overnight bag and hop a plane to tropical Grand Island, Nebraska or exotic Appleton, Wisconsin. No, now such excursions required many months of planning and a steamer trunk full of diapers, bottles, and other battle gear.
Yes, a baby certainly changes things. Take, for example, a Normal Person dinner:
Now, add one baby:
Normal Person grocery shopping:
Add one baby:
First Child certainly kept us busy, especially with regards to her “little problem.” At two months old, First Child was diagnosed with chronic spitupitis. Meal time went like this: administer bottle, wait two minutes, clean up return of goods.
It got old.
So you can imagine how I felt on that fateful day.
In spite of my general alarm and dismay at the prospect of doing all of this all over again, nine months and two minutes later, Second Child arrived.
At first, Second Child seemed just like First Child. However, as she began to grow into her own person, one difference jumped out at me: at any given age, she always seemed so much younger than First Child was at that same age. For this reason, I began calling her Little One.
One thing you don’t get with just one child is the fascinating dynamics that develop between two children. For example, an early challenge was making sure First Child didn’t kill Little One.
That was when we realized there was now a whole new kind of worrying with a second one. Little One was so much smaller, so vulnerable. Would she be all right tomorrow? When she started preschool? When she was all growed up?
As she grew, we quickly settled into a fixed bedtime routine. We’d pin her down to brush her teeth. Mom would say goodnight. I would read a little something from Atlas Shrugged or Cujo, and then I’d bid her goodnight myself.
This went on a while until one day a year or two later she surprised me with a quick comeback.
I smiled. Sure, it was a simple (even an obvious) response. But for me it was an event. Call me crazy, but at that moment I saw someone thinking for herself. And anyone who can do that is going to be all right.
Time flew on. She finally learned to ride a bike about three years later than I expected.
Time flew on. She finally learned to drive about three years after most others her age.
Time flew on and before I knew it, Little One was walking across that same stage that First Child had crossed seemingly just two weeks prior. And somehow she still looked younger than First Child did.
First Child went way out of town for college. Little One stayed local, getting her own apartment only a half hour north. As much as I dreaded moving day, it more or less went rather smoothly.
Though I still couldn’t shake that feeling of, “Is she going to be okay all on her own? She’s so little!”
Because of her proximity to home, it never really felt to us like she left. Certainly not in the same way it did when we reluctantly abandoned First Child in a strange city all alone. Instead, we moved her in . . . then we saw her the next day . . . then we saw her again the day after that.
I guess for me I didn’t get that “moment” until about a week later when I stopped by her place after work to drop something off. I only spent a few minutes there (for what I don’t even remember) and then I left. But after closing the apartment door, a thought occurred to me.
Yep. She’ll be okay.
Good luck, Rachel! Study hard, practice a lot, and BE SOMEBODY!