July 26, 2011

The Second Child

When I sat down to write this post last night it brought a little pang to my heart. I missed posting about Archer's first month with us and very nearly missed posting about his second. It's true what they say that parents take fewer photos of their later-born children. If it weren't for the photos my friend Vi took of us all just after Archer's birth, we would hardly have any photos of him at all.

But beyond my negligence as his documentarian, I feel a bit negligent as his parent. I've given him so much less attention than I gave to his big brother at the same age--than I still give his big brother. Archer can usually be tucked away in my sling and forgotten about for a few hours at a time while I tend to Colin's latest accident/demand/meltdown. But bless him, he doesn't seem the worse off for it. He is so calm and gentle and good-natured, it almost makes me wonder if Colin might have benefited from a little more "negligence."

One doesn't like to compare one's children--and I'm not saying I prefer one over the other--but so far, my boys are as different as night and day. Since the day he was born, Archer has been a relaxed, contented baby. I think I can count the number of times he's been truly hysterical on two hands. As an infant, Colin barely slept and was wound so tightly he would scream his head off every time he got his diaper changed. In fact, he still fusses about getting his diaper changed. I will be so glad when he is potty trained.

Likewise, my boys bear little physical resemblance to each other. Although they inherited a few characteristics from each parent, Colin looks more like Kevin's side of the family and Archer more like mine. (Colin has my dimple, his father's hair; Archer has my eyes, his father's, um ... earlobes?) I remember being surprised when I held Colin for the first time: He had such a full head of spikey black hair, how could he possibly be mine, I thought? But Archer I recognized immediately as a Ligon.

Lately, I've been wondering if they come by their differences naturally or if I've played some role in making them so very different. Was Colin really such a difficult infant, or was I just an inexperienced, insecure parent? Is Archer really so relaxed, or am I just better at meeting his needs quickly. It's certainly true that whenever Colin cried it made my blood pressure shoot through the roof. Archer rarely cries because we are so in sync that I know what he needs almost as soon as he does.

Perhaps it was the difference in their births: Colin's was very intense and nerve-wracking; Archer's was peaceful and easy--and they say that stress hormones present at birth stay in a baby's blood stream for weeks afterward. In this case, I wonder, could they still be in Colin's two-and-a-half years later?

Whatever the origins of their differences, it's exciting to have two such dissimilar children. Who knows what this very new, very different baby will bring to our family mix? Will he be left-brained like his daddy or right-brained like his mama? Will he be impish like his brother or something entirely different? In any case, I ought to do a better job documenting his many differences. So I'm setting myself the goal of taking a few new photos of him every week and posting them here. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Not with such a handsome mug ...

Tell me, were you a different parent the second, or third, or fourth time around? Do you think it's made a difference in your children's personalities?


Rachael said...

What a great, interesting post! I loved reading your perspective. Emery at http://emeryjo.blogspot.com/ has a third boy now that she also handles so easily and/or is so much less work, she says she forgets he's there. Who knows if it's parenting, hormones at birth or just different personalities? It's just so interesting.
My parents were going through a rough patch when I was born, then divorced so there's almost no photos of my dad and I growing up, so I think it's really great that you're taking steps to document the second child more.

Beki said...

I was definitly a different mom all three times now. I think that each of my children has their own definite personality, and that makes me respond differently to each of them. My oldest, now just about 4 years old, is definitely more "high needs" and always was. My youngest, 4 months, is by far the easiest. I respond very differently to him than I did to my other two.

It will be interesting to watch them grow up and se how those difference translate into the childhood, teenage, and then adult stages.

Vicky said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head about different parenting styles the more children you have. I "neglect" Logan at time or at least I feel like I do compared to when the others were little. But they have probably all been "neglected" slightly more than the last.
I had to laugh at your comment about Colin still being under the influence of his birth stress hormones after 2 and a half years... I think Tabatha still has them after almost 8 years! Lol!

BTW. The burrito snuggler is working a treat. I can get Logan to sleep in the afternoon! yay!