Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Only slightly less than I used to

Life with two kids is nothing like life with one. Maintaining our family standards is so much harder: standards of cleanliness, nutrition and interaction. Sam is stretched so thin he's translucent, but the house is clean, the laundry is done, our meals are fresh and healthy, and the children know they are loved. Where am I? Feeding the baby. It seems everything I start is interrupted by a hungry baby, which leads to a messy baby, which begets a tired baby. Thus, I cook poorly once a week, and the dryer is my new closet. But last night I washed the dishes! All of them! I was feeling so proud of myself for contributing until Paolo asked what I was doing. Cleaning the kitchen! "But Daddy's the washer; you're the sitter on the coucher." Ouch.

The hardest part of having a second child is missing the first. Everyone says your feelings for your firstborn don't change when you have another, but I disagree. It's primal, the protectiveness a mother feels for her baby. Just as I protected Paolo as a baby, I look out for Gianluca, even though that often means I'm protecting him from Paolo. Granted, the only real interference I have to run is to keep Paolo from sitting on him or giving him toys he could choke on. But if I push one son away so the other can eat or sleep in peace, isn't that favoritism? As much as I love Luca, I miss the way I was with Paolo when it was just us. I haven't found balance yet.

I took the boys to the park on Sunday to take advantage of warmer weather and saw my surly eldest son transformed. Paolo was on best behavior: solicitous, joyful, funny, obedient. He was the boy I knew before I stiff-armed him a hundred times, before I shushed him a dozen times a day. We enjoyed each other's company, and it did my heart good. Before he went to bed last night, I made a point of telling him how much fun I had at the park, that he is awesome and I love him. I turned to walk away, but he started to say something. I thought it might be one of those priceless times he tells me he loves me, too, so I turned back, eyes shining, and he announced, "I am awesome." I couldn't agree more.

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