Mommy A to Z

Motherhood, Alphabetized.

F is for . . . Five Ways My Second Kid Is Getting Less (And That’s OK)


Sibling loveI had it pretty good growing up. As an only child, I was the star of the show. Every event in my life – from my first school play to my college graduation – elicited a frenzy of photography from the parental paparazzi. Each milestone was carefully documented in an endless series of photo albums that still grace my parents’ bookshelves today. I had my parents’ undivided attention, all the togetherness I could ask for, and a room of my own for when I wanted to be alone.

And so, when friends described to me life as a younger sibling, I was taken aback. I was surprised by tales of photos scattered in boxes, never organized into albums — or never taken at all. Of the constant flow of hand-me-downs. Of the inescapable lack of privacy. Certainly, I told myself, this won’t happen if I have a second child.

Well, fast forward to present day, and I’m constantly witnessing ways that my toddler son is getting less than his older sister did. And yet, despite the outward appearance of deprivation, I’m discovering that the things he’s missing aren’t as important as I thought. Here are five ways my son is getting less — and why I’m fine with it.

1. Fewer photo shoots. By the time my daughter was one, I had painstakingly created three full-length photo albums of her every move. My son is almost two, and I’m still working on his baby book. These days I’m more concerned about living life than documenting it – picking apples, conquering jungle gyms, lounging together at the beach. While I still plan on (someday) finishing that album, I’ve made a conscious decision to spend my time participating in my kids’ joyful moments, instead of stressing about capturing them. My son may not have as many photos, but together we’re making special memories — that I’m not experiencing from behind a camera.

2. Less new stuff. With my daughter, we were always purchasing a toy here, a book there. These playthings have slowly migrated to my son’s room – from princess tea sets to a collection of half-dressed baby dolls (occasionally missing a body part or two). And everyone is happy. Sure, some toys are missing pieces or buttons, but no more than a new toy would be five minutes after opening the box. And, with all the money we’re saving on playthings, we can do fun stuff – like ride the carousel at the mall… again… and again…and again.

3. Less time to himself. Granted, my son’s not even two yet, so I doubt he has a deep need for solitary reflection. But should he ever crave some alone time, he has big sister to contend with, who’s very interested in exploring his head with her feet, or uniting his stuffed bunny with her Barbie doll in holy matrimony… while he’s still playing with it. His time playing solo is often limited or interrupted – and yet, as cranky as he gets when his wooden puzzle is co-opted, I know how much he loves having someone who’s always there to make him laugh, cry, and squeal with delight at every tickle.

4. Less pimpin’ lifestyle. Between my son’s nonstop eating and the bigger home we’re starting to need, cash isn’t always as free-flowing as it was back in the day. That means no more dropping dollars like we’re planning a Kardashian wedding – fewer dinners out at nice restaurants, fewer new outfits, fewer structured (and pricey) mommy and me classes. And, as it turns out, my son could care less. He’s just as happy at the library as at a music class; just as thrilled to throw Mommy’s home cooking on the floor. As long as he’s with his family, my son’s a pretty happy little guy.

5. Less one-on-one time with Mommy. This was a tough pill for me to swallow at first. But I’ve come to realize that, while I can’t always spend as much time alone with my son as I did with my daughter, other things make up for this change. Like my daughter teaching her brother to dance to her favorite Shakira song, or their dressing up in matching pirate gear and crying “Aargh!” as I chase them around the living room – or those quiet moments when they think no one’s watching, when my son places his head on his sister’s shoulder, and she wraps her little arms around him and holds him close. Maybe I’m less a part of the picture, but the picture is a joyful one nonetheless.

Ultimately, while my son may not have Mommy’s undivided attention or resources, he has something I never had – a funny and feisty older sister to show him the ropes, make him laugh, and pick him up when he falls. And, while he may learn to ride a pink tricycle and have one baby album and not three, he’ll be just fine. In fact he’ll be more than fine. He’ll be part of a family that adores him — hand-me-down princess tea sets and all.

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  1. Having a big sister is definitely a perk. We still have just one kiddo, and I can relate to snapping every move. LOL First time moms often go crazy with the camera.

  2. Definitely. In fact, I think my younger one ultimately gains more from her big brother than she loses.

  3. Absolutely! When my son was almost born and I was experiencing some serious preggo hormones, I got really sad about the one on one time I would miss out on with each kid. But I’ve adjusted (and so has my daughter), and when we do get it, it’s much more appreciated. Plus it is pretty freaking cute watching him try to copy her moves to Katy Perry’s “Roar.”

  4. Although I was never crazy about my older sister’s hand-me downs, I was crazy and am crazy about my sister. I would not trade the fun we had together as kids for more of my own toys or more anything.

  5. Aww I love this. I feel like a crazy lady with all the pics I take of my daughter. I think if I have another baby and it’s another girl, she’ll be less pimpin’ and rockin’ hand-me-downs for sure! Stained and well worn! haha :)

  6. I always wanted an older brother – I got stuck with two younger ones. I wanted someone to do all the hard work – make friends, figure out curfew, etc, but I never got that luxury.

  7. The less one on one time is probably going to be my most difficult struggle when we have a second (or more) child(ren), especially knowing that Baby Boy will have gotten nearly 2 years (or more) of his life as the only one…. Makes me think :)

  8. I sometimes worry about my future son or daughter because I know it’ll be much more difficult to provide them with all of the attention my older son received. I was a second child though and I loved it! I had a great older brother and two younger brothers. We had so much fun growing up and we are the best of friends now. Great post!

  9. I like this and definitely try to make it a point with my second not to let the little things (that we’re so excited to do with our firsts) fall by the wayside. Can’t really help the less time to himself and less one-on-one time though, but you’re right, my youngest gets something my oldest didn’t, an older sibling around :).

  10. Sometimes I wish I had more individual time with my eldest. However, when they play and hug I’m so glad they have each other. Having less money can be a good thing too.

  11. I think it’s wonderful that you took the time to write your feelings about your second child down. At least you have proof of your consideration of him should he ever question it! No child is raised exactly the same as no child has the exactly the same needs. The concerted effort you are making to balance the imbalance is sure to make him feel loved.

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