Exactly the same and nothing alike
Nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent. No matter what books you read or tips you get from seasoned parents, there will come a moment when you are drowning in the newness of it all. A time when for a moment you wonder if you will survive the transition you have just gone through; from being an individual to becoming a parent. It was amazing to me how quickly I went from thinking I knew what I wanted, even up to days before delivering my first daughter and the reality of what parenthood was just a few weeks after becoming a mom. After having my first daughter I could not conceive of having another child, even though I had always wanted multiple children. Deep down I deeply wanted a second child and in that desire I also feared that having a second child would break me or ruin the relationship I had with my firstborn.
People told me so many things, it was twice as hard, it was not nearly twice the amount of work, one and done is the way to go, you have to give your child a sibling, once you have two what is three or four….hold on people, can I have some solidarity here? Here is where as parents, we must learn to breath, in order to survive, in order to stay sane and in order to be who we want to be as people and as parents. People told me that loving a second child was automatic and I believed them, in the same way I believed that being a parent was a lot of work; insert the definition of empathy versus sympathize here because really, those who do not walk the path cannot fathom the shoes they would hypothetically be in.
What no-one ever talks about is what it is like to look at two versions of yourself within your children. That is what I want to touch on in this article because it is miraculous to witness. Biological children will have similarities of course because they share genetic components. Every parent I met who has more than one child talks about the similarities and the differences of what each of their children does the same or differently than their other children. While I do find these traits to be marvelous I have a harder time seeing them because of the wide gap between my girls (six years). I believe, yet do not know with any certainty, that children born closer together are easier to “compare” regarding eating patterns, what makes them giggle as an infant, different faces they make etc. The stages of each child are closer together and thus it is easier to recall one versus the other. Again, I am speaking to a pair of shoes I have not yet worn so pardon my assumptions here.
Lately I have been watching my girls and admiring who they are as people and projecting who they will become in their lives. In doing so I see two sides of myself and it hit me like a ton of bricks that children are most alike in their differences. They share half of me and half of their father and yet those fragments of each of us are so different between them. My daughters are the lights of my life, they give me purpose and meaning every day. Do I want a break? Absolutely and as soon as they are out of my arms I miss them terribly because I realize that in giving birth to two human beings I have handed over a piece of myself to each of them. Knowing that never again will I be whole without them, never again will I be whole with one of them, they together make up the best and worst of who I am, who I have been and who I will always be. It seems to be that comparing your children is not possible because they are both exactly the same and entirely opposite from one another. One may be athletic and the other a scholar. One might excel where the other falls behind. If we look at ourselves and really look deeply at who we are and what makes us unique I believe we will all see that our children are simply the parts of us that we have given to them mixed in with the influences of the world around them. So next time you look at your children side by side imagine yourself in two parallel lives and look at the wonderful opportunity in being able to be so uniquely different at the same time.
I am a mother, not a wizard. I share what is hard, what is scary and what is real. The rest I leave to you.