I always found it annoying when veteran parents would say "just wait, it gets so much harder" or "bigger kids, bigger problems". Not helpful when you and your cracked & bleeding nipples are struggling to get through the soul-crushing sleep deprivation and sanity-sucking colicky days while you wonder why in the hell you decided to ruin your body, your career, your social life, and your marriage. What I want to hear is "just wait, it gets so much easier".
Because it does, in many many ways. The constant neediness fades. The having to desperately guess what the cries are for, because now he can clearly tell us what he wants (though the wants of a 2 year old are not always logical and attainable). Sometimes he can even be reasoned with, like a regular person! He naps and sleeps and eats on a predictable schedule. He can entertain himself for good chunks of time now, as long as we are nearby to offer encouragement, making it possible to get chores done around the house while he is awake. Best of all, he is developing a personality, making jokes, interacting with us & the world in sometimes surprising and hilarious ways.
But...and of course there is a but or what would be the point, right? His needs, and our jobs as parents, are getting more complex. Less physically demanding, but more emotionally and mentally intricate. A newborn's needs are simple and primal: food, sleep, holding, and stimulation in the form of fairly predictable interactions (rattling things, peek-a-boo, looking in the mirror, etc...). This is what we do for L everyday, and at this point we can do it without much thought or stress.
For B? Now we've got stuff to think about. How to discipline him, how to best encourage him to be independent and try harder before asking for help, how to deal with his shyness, how to recognize and foster his talents, and on and on.... G & I wonder, worry, read and talk a lot about these things. We are trying to make sure we are consistent with our approach, yet flexible in considering new approaches should ours seem to not be working. There is SO MUCH information out there on raising kids, but we have mutually decided to mostly use common sense and our gut instincts to find the right path.
Inherent on all this, though, is an even harder truth. One that I am hesitant to even discuss here, lest you think me a bit heartless. I've wondered if other parents think this, or if its just my cynical mind...
In those countless hours I've spent gazing at my sons as newborns, I've wondered and imagined how their lives would turn out. The possibilities were literally infinite. B could be an athlete or an artist, a scientist or a lawyer or a school teacher, the quiet bookish one or the most popular kid in school! But as he grows and his inherent personality becomes more and more evident, those possibilities, while still quite numerous, start to pare away. He is shy. He is clumsy. He is excellent at words and memorizing. He is generous and empathetic. He loves music. He loves books. He doesn't love playing with balls or getting his hands dirty. Yes, I know he's only two, but I am beginning to be able to envision more what kind of kid he's going to be....and while that kid in my mind is AMAZING....it is ever-so-slightly sad to let go of all the OTHER kinds of kids he could be. To realize that, like all of us, he will have limitations and struggles and things to overcome.
I do think some of my thoughts here are directly related to the fact that his limitations seem very similar to my own growing up. I was shy. Bookish. Clumsy. Too affected by others' opinions and too careful of others' feelings. Obsessively neat. Really good with words, and loved to read and write. No interest in sports. I know what kind of struggles are in store, and I want to spare him. But as much as I wish for my golden child to live a golden life...I can't make that happen. I love him the way he is, and my main job is to make sure he knows that.