Sunday, February 06, 2011

the second time around

OK, so I'm finally done with updating the photo page for the book website. These old photos amuse me, I cannot credit the advent of cell phone cameras enough for helping me to record the minor and often hilarious minutiae of residency. (Cell phone cameras such as they were back then.) Even though Mack wasn't born until after the book was finished, I did have to add some pictures of him in there, or else he would think that I don't love him and would probably grow up with a deep sense of emptiness and disconnection. Hey, you baby, EARN MY LOVE.

(That was a joke.)

Some commenter a while back made a kind of disparaging remark that I didn't take too seriously (because come on, it's an anonymous blog comment, there's a limit to how much one can take that to heart) about how I talked about Cal ALL THE TIME and how I never talk about Mack and how tragic it is that Mack is so unloved. I just kind of laughed it off, because come on, obviously I love Mack one skrillion love units and it's not like love is some finite commodity that gets all used up on one child so that there's none left over from the other. But that commenter did have a point that I don't write about Mack as much on this blog and in not nearly as much detail, a fact that I had noticed as much myself when I started tagging my blog entries and got actual visual evidence of it.

It's actually worse than it looks, because I've only tagged the last three years of entries (what? IT'S SO TEDIOUS) so there are still two and a half years worth of Cal stories to go through that Mack can't possibly be in because he wasn't even born yet. So when I finish tagging everything, it's going to look like this blog is THE CAL SHOW and Mack is going to seem like the fine print in a pharmaceutical ad. (May cause seizure, stroke or death, callyourdoctorwithvisionchangesortongeswellinguseasdirected.)

Obviously I love Mack, because...well duh, you've seen him, right?

But it's just that when you have your second kid, you just don't make as big a deal about the same things. When your first kid starts to sit up and eat solid foods, you're like OH MY GOD THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ANYONE EVER, but when your second kid starts to do those same things, you're like, of course he's sitting up and eating solid foods, that's what he's supposed to do at this age, I remember this from the first time around. It doesn't make the child any less loved or the milestones any less important, it's just that the context is different.

Mack is an amazing brilliant baby, and very different from Cal in a million different ways. But I think it's accurate that you generally get less worked up about the things that your second kid does, because there's not as much novelty to the experience on the large scale of things. And I can see how that could be construed by some (probably more likely by people who don't have kids, or possibly for people who know me only through this blog) as disinterest in him generally. But doing things the second time around doesn't affect the quality or depth of your love for your second child, which, if anything, is enhanced by the fact of having had another child before. It's a situation in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and the experience of having Mack is so much better because we also have Cal, and raising each of them--raising them together--is undoubtedly the best thing that Joe and I will ever do.


  1. As a fellow mother of two, all I can say is that you pretty much nailed it. (And that is a marvelous photo of Mack!)

  2. I'm another mom of 2 boys, and yes, we don't love our second sons any less, even though we don't take 38 billion pictures of them during their Tuesday morning nap when they are 2 weeks old.

    Also, younger children do less and have less going on in their lives (unless they are your only child, of course, then you don't know any better), so as Mack grows older and participates in more things, there will be more to report.

    To the anonymous commenter (a few entries ago): despite the fact that I don't know Dr. Au personally, and although I think she's quite gifted, I doubt she's capable of faking the boundless love for BOTH of her children (in equal measure) that obviously infuses her every breath and so many of her words.

    Having written all this, I do realize that there are some parents who don't cherish all their children and don't treat them with the same love and tenderness, which is truly tragic and devastating on so many levels. If the anonymous commenter is the child of such parents, you have my sincere sympathy and best wishes - I hope you will be able to heal.

  3. As another child #2 I can completely relate to your (or, I guess Mack's) situation. When I was graduating grade school and needed pictures of me as a baby... there were maybe 1 of me to my brother's 30. The same goes for cinematic evidence of me being an infant. Reels of the older one... virtually none of me. I often joke with my mom and dad about it.. but it actually does sort of hurt my feelings. I get they were all busy with TWO WHOLE KIDS and stuff... but I always feel just a little less special/loved/appreciated/wanted/amazing than my brother. Not saying that it's true AT ALL.

    Just wanted to give you a heads up for future reference!

  4. Canadian Jenn11:01 PM

    I have three kids, and I think you are spot on about recognizing but not obsessing over developmental milestones with the subsequent offspring. With the second and third, the fun (at least for our family) is all about watching the interaction between the three of them, rather than documenting the exact minute of the day that they learned to roll over, sit, or what have you. If I wrote down everything and took pictures of every moment the way I did with my first child, I wouldn't have much time left to just BE with the kids and enjoy them.

    Your kids are beautiful, Michelle!

  5. Mack is adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. i like the second picture of the two of them walking cute!!

    My sib doesn't have as many pictures of herself either as a baby...most sibs grow to accept it, but there are those that truly were neglected for various reasons and hold a lot of resentful feelings. It's not fair for someone to direct their resentment towards you and your children without knowing anything about you.

    Besides, Mack gets to take GREAT pictures WITH his brother! Pictures of sibs together and getting along are way cuter and better to look at and cherish, especially when they get older and you can tease them about it.

  7. Anonymous12:29 AM

    Anonymous Dog says, "What about Cooper? Do you still love Cooper? Post some new pictures of Cooper. Cooper Cooper COOPER!"

  8. Anonymous10:37 AM

    It's true that the second child doesn't get as many photos, but there are many advantages to not being the parent-training trailblazer. Second children tend to be more easy going & less neurotic - they don't have frantic, obsessive parents fretting over their every movement! With the first kid it's all "Don't eat that dirty floor cookie or you'll DIE!" whereas with the second it's "Meh, munch away, kids are pretty much unbreakable".

  9. Anonymous1:38 PM

    I am a 6th kid. I think my parents put me in a corner, gave me a box of cheerios and hoped for the best! All is well. No worries.

  10. I love that last picture.

    I'm expecting my second boy in a few weeks, so I read this post with interest. A friend with two kids was just confessing to me that her younger son starting to talk was the first milestone that she got just as excited about the second time around. As a younger child myself, I noticed when I got older that there wasn't nearly as much documentation of my childhood, but I never felt neglected.

    And like you said, of course you've written more about Cal over the years -- he's been around a lot longer! Actually, I was a little surprised to see that comment because I feel like you write about both of them more equally than I'd expect.

  11. christine3:07 AM

    I've never met you nor either of your sons, but I think you do a fantastic job of writing about them both! As the oldest of three, I definitely got the brunt of Super-Parents -- and all the attention that came with my status. I don't think my siblings hold it against me though; they've been granted so many freedoms that were never bestowed on the experimental child, I doubt they ever wished to be in my position.

    FWIW, I think Mack has the most adorable personality :)

  12. Some serious smouldering happening in that photo!

  13. I know, very Blue Steel.

  14. yes you nailed it with the second child thing. I got a bit teary on the last line because it is exactly how I feel and yet I could never say it as beautifully as you did. Bravo!

  15. Anonymous5:47 PM

    well, here's the thing. there are real, well-studied differences between children based on their birth order. it has even been suggested that middle children feel less special or feel that life is unfair. you're a first child, so you are probably not sensitive to this. you can say that you love Mack and you can think that that's enough to protect him from any of these feelings, but your actions speak louder than your words, and he will come out of it feeling however he's going to feel. the most important thing you can do is treat them EQUALLY, which you certainly don't do on the blog, but really, who cares about the blog? he might, when he grows up and sees that you rarely talked about him, but hopefully you don't act in real life the way you do on the blog. however, openly stating that everything he does is less special/impt because he's the second, or that you forget his birthday, etc etc,does paint an impression that you do treat him differently than you treat Cal, and readers who ARE more sensitive to the effects of birth order than you are, may simply be pointing out to you that treating your kids differently based on birth order is not benign or insignificant.

  16. You guys, for the last time, I did not really forget his birthday!

    Bu yes, do totally buy into the birth order thing, I think it has a lot of validity. Thanks for all the comments!

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