We were at a restaurant, and when my soup arrived, she gave me the “are you holding out on me?” look as I spooned some into my mouth. To my own surprise, I gave her a taste, and she went wild. My one-tooth wonder wanted more.
And that’s how she went from homemade pureed vegetables to table food. An Italian meatball soup with pasta and kale nonetheless. I skipped the meatballs but she was all about the mushy pasta. We also let her chew on a fry from her daddy’s plate except after a brief coughing fit, we thought perhaps it was a bit premature. She liked it though. The fry, not the choking.
While waiting for the check, My Guy looked at me and said, “You know you wouldn’t have done this with Little Miss.”
He’s right of course. As a first-time parent, I mothered by the book, word for word. I found a site that listed the foods Little Miss was allowed to try at each stage, and I didn’t dare stray from it. Rice cereal at four months. Green beans at six. Eggplant and spices at eight. Salt at ten.
It’s different with Thumper. And I don’t just mean the eating. With Little Miss, we were adamant about not co-sleeping, hoping to avoid a “bad habit” but now, even though Thumper goes down by herself at night, I pull her into bed with me when she wakes for her one feed at night and let her stay there with us. Waking up with my baby next to me is still one of the most rewarding and pleasurable experiences of parenting, and I’m not ready to deny myself that yet.
As an infant, Little Miss wasn’t allowed any TV. Even though we still don’t turn any shows on for Thumper, we are less inclined to remove her from the room while her sister watches them. She stares at it a few minutes, gets bored and moves on to an object that she can stuff into her mouth. I can deal with that.
I’m also less concerned about her milestones. Thumper neither sits up by herself nor does she crawl yet whereas her older sister was mobile by this age. But she’ll get there, I know. I’m not going to sweat it.
Maybe it’s because I’m doing this the second time around that I am able to relax a little. I don’t feel the pressure to “fix a problem” or stress about delays just so she can reach each stage “appropriately”. Besides, every child is different. But more importantly, as said beautifully in this piece by Glennon Melton of Momastery, I am different.
No longer the wild-eyed parent who depended on Google for advice, it’s liberating, this parenting by instinct rather than by the book (or rather, the Internet). I adore this confidence of a seasoned parent as I’m less apt to worry about what others think or say about my decisions. No swagger though – I am still a worrier – but I’m all right with that. It keeps me on my toes, but it’s not all-consuming. I suspect it has something to do with this happy, intelligent little three-year-old I see before me. We must have done something right with Little Miss.
I also think it may be the fact that Thumper is our last baby that our focus has been more on savoring every last bit of babyhood that we can before it vanishes completely. We can’t afford the time to sweat the small stuff; this time is fleeting. We’d rather be enjoying this baby and all the joy that she brings, as well as the ones we can give her.
And that means if she wants the Italian wedding soup, by golly she’s going to have the Italian wedding soup.
* did I just say golly?
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If you’re a parent of two or more, how did you feel about parenting the second, third or even fourth time around? How did it change for you? And if you’re a parent to an only, did you feel more confident as your child grew older?