April 29, 2011

Dad's Perspective

Travis has recently started writing articles for an online parenting magazine. It's not yet gone live, but in the meantime, I'm posting his articles here. Welcome to the Dad's Life!

Here we go again. My wife is now 26 weeks pregnant with our second child, our second boy, and I already feel bad for the little guy. Not even out of the womb and the kid is getting neglected by me. I admit that I don’t give him near the attention I gave to his older brother at 26 weeks. I’m an oldest child myself, and for years I’ve dismissed second child complaints as nothing more than childish whining. But as much as it pains me to admit it, I’ve come to the realization that all these gripes from second children are, in fact, based in reality.

At this point during my wife’s last pregnancy, I was pouring over the books with her. Our favorite being What to Expect When You Are Expecting. We took regular pictures of her belly’s expansion with the discipline of scientists. Every craving, every cold, every bodily change was chalked up to the pregnancy and analyzed with care. But now, for this second time around, a cold is just a cold and we take pictures when we think about it. More often than not, I’ll suggest that we do a belly photo shoot, and my wife will give some excuse that she hasn’t showered yet or whatever, and the pictures aren’t taken.

Last time we were putting the finishing touches on the nursery by week 26. The green paint still in our hair, the cute animal pictures hung with care. This time? Well, we bought our son a big boy bed and moved the crib into the guest bedroom. No painting, no furniture, nothing new for the second child. We’re more practical this time. We know one of us will be charged with the overnight shift, and if this second child happens to sleep during those wee hours, we want a bed to try to catch a few zzzs on ourselves. No more trying to make due on the couch for us. The second child doesn’t get a nursery. He gets to hang out in the guestroom. A room made for us, not for him.

Like I said, I feel bad for the kid.

I know our second child won’t get the attention of our first. His first smile and laugh will be cute I’m sure, but he can’t help not being the first baby to reach those milestones in our family. We’ll probably be holding him back from crawling and walking rather than encouraging him. We know now that the better he moves the harder our life becomes!

Yet, there is something that this second child will have that gives him an edge in life. He gets an older brother, a sibling, a playmate right out of the gate. I can already see that my oldest child is under stimulated some days. But our next child will have someone there to imitate, to learn from, to laugh at. He might not get all the attention he deserves, or wants. He may end up complaining that his older brother had it better. But if he’s like most second children I know, he’ll be better with people, easier to get along with and less demanding than firstborns, like myself. In the end the pros and cons will work themselves out, and regardless, I get two boys for epic living room wrestling matches. And they’ll be able to team up on dad.