Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Parenting the First Kid vs. Parenting the Last

"You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? 
Those who've never had any."
Bill Cosby

My Sweet and I have seven kids. Because that is the perfect number, we are going to stop. Or because we have reached our max and don't want to spend the rest of our lives on a therapist's couch. Either way, seven is our number. 

All families have their number. 

For parents with more than one kid, we learn to adjust our standards, don't we? We reevaluate our focus, our time and the final resting place of boogers. I would have been appalled at the things I now let slide. Wiping a kids' nose on the underside of her shirt? Who does that? Now I know.

Survival usually wins out. 

Here are some of the areas of slipping standards we have discovered in our 14 years of parenting:

The Dirt Factor
That first-born kid of ours was so squeaky clean. Oh my gosh. One evening some friends of ours were sitting on our blue couch watching our toddlers play when they asked, How often do you bathe your kid? We gave them this confused look and said, Every night. They thought we were crazy and now so do I. Today the conversation goes like this, Hey Sweetheart, when did Jojo last have a bath? It wasn't LAST Saturday was it?

The Germ Factor
When the firstborn dropped his cup of Cheerios on Grandma's floor we tossed them all away just in case dirt particles snuck into his little unsuspecting cup. Last week I saw my baby eat his raisins from the therapy room carpet. And I turned my head and pretended to be very interested in the posters on the wall. 

The Baby Shoes
When Baby #1 was gifted darling little shoes, mom actually put those darling little shoes on her baby. When Baby #7 was gifted darling little shoes, mom knew that they would make an excellent re-gift. To another First-Time Mom. 

The Food Factor
If Firstborn was offered any food before six months, Mama Hawk was there to scoop him up and squat the offensive no-no away. Oh no! Yogurt isn't to be started until 42 weeks. But alas, by six months, Lastborn had been fed too many foods to count. And not a very high percentage of them would be found on Baby's First Foods Chart either. That first kid didn't know what candy was until we needed potty leverage. And school parties introduced him to pop. The baby? He walks into kitchens and reaches his clammy little hands up to feel the countertops for Hershey kisses. A shame.

The Diaper Bag
When Baby #1 left the house, a raft size bag accompanied him. It was stuffed to the zipper with one dozen diapers, medicine, two changes of clothing, a pacifier, extra pacifier, an extra-extra pacifier, and a packet of formula (even though Baby #1 was exclusively breast-fed). When Baby #4/5/6/7 leaves the house, mom wonders if there is a diaper stuffed under the seat as she turns the van around for the forgotten bottle sitting on the kitchen counter.

The Baby Book
Firstborn's baby book had a prominent place on our shelf for easy access. Every few weeks, it was update time! When mom sits down to fill in Lastborn's baby book, she had better have the most freaking awesome memory in history.

The Changing Table
Lucky little Firstborn had his own changing table in his own room and a nifty changing pad in his diaper bag. Lucky little Lastborn's parents are so flexible that anything becomes a changing table. A blanket, the couch, the van seat, mom's lap.

The Potty Factor
After the first born pooped in the potty for the first time, there was jumping and hollering, candy and photos and phone calls. Three months after the baby pooped in the potty for the first time, my husband goes, Hey, does he always poop in the potty?

The Measuring Stick
After Numero Uno was measured and weighed, mom would save those papers from the doctors office and transfer all info immediately into his baby book. When someone asked how big he was, mom passionately talked about pounds and ounces, inches and centimeters and percentages. People comment on how tall Numero Siete is. Mom has a quick panic attack as she mentally reviews the clothes in his drawers and gasps in relief when she decides she doesn't have to do another overhaul to his wardrobe. 

The Blood Factor
Blood coming from Baby One = ER visit.
Blood coming from Baby Seven = tissue. 
Or napkin or paper towel or shirt sleeve.

The Mess Factor
If that firstborn managed to find something to rip apart under your ever watchful eye, it was ended quickly with a No-no Baby. When that last born is caught making a horrific mess, there is a quick-fire argument in the parent brain between Mr. Entertainment and Ms. CleanUp. Mr. Entertainment has a very persuasive voice.

Puppy costumes and caterpillar boots? That works.

Dad's boots? Worn backwards to the hardware store? Why not.

The Matching Factor
When that first kid left the house, he looked good. If he was wearing navy, no black was found on his body. Stripes with checks? Never happened. Flowers with polka dots? Couldn't, shouldn't wouldn't. When that last kid leaves the house, he occasionally has his shoes with him. Not on him, but if he digs around in the van, surely he will come up with something. The only clothing rule that applies to last borns is this: Wearing clothes is good. 

So if you see me and my slightly dirty toddler walking through the grocery store with a funky smear on his mis-matched crocs and a lollipop in his ever-smiling mouth, rest assured that I was once a good mom. 
And today, I am a happily adjusted GOOD MOM.

I'll bet you are too.


  1. OH MY WORD!!! I think this alone time, reading your blog posts, is part of my soul food, for I have had laughter-turned-to-sobs through this whole post!!!

    1. You get it! With all of your kids, you probably have some sliding standards to share. :)