When I found out I was pregnant with Oli (boy 2) Bronson (boy 1) was still relatively easy. He wasn’t walking yet, or talking yet, or generally being abrasive. He didn’t sleep that well, but mostly, I still thought he was 99% wonderful, 99% of the time.
Fairly soon into my pregnancy, he started using his leg muscles and his defiance muscles. I secretly held my breath throughout the day and wondered what I had gotten into. He cried in public, even screamed. He wasn’t capable of being very useful on his own – like feeding himself, or dressing himself, or deciphering his own babble. He was what you would call a toddler.
I found this shocking.
Also pregnancy was not very wonderful. I caught every cold in the Western Maine region. I couldn’t rest when I needed to. I carried a 30 lbs boy in my arms and an extra 30 lbs in my belly. This was far from ideal.
By the time Oli arrived, I didn’t know if I could expect anything besides crying and exhaustion.
I’ve been surprised in many ways.
First, I’m surprised that two arms, with corresponding hands, are simply insufficient for two boys. It is virtually impossible to keep them both happy with my limited resources. Sometimes I wish I had monkey skills. It would be good to peal bananas with my toes.
Secondly, I’m surprised that boy 2 picks up on all bad behaviors, but not necessarily good ones. Like walking. I thought Oli would surely walk sooner than Bronson did since he has such a stellar, similar-scaled example. I was mistaken. But Oli seems to understand that frustration is best expressed by screaming. Incessantly. Thank you for that, Bronson.
Thirdly, I’m surprised that Oli reveals different things differently. With Bronson, I learned so much about life and faith (read more in Cling); and Oli sometimes reminds me of similar things, but often, he reminds me of new things, in new ways. He shows me what it means to be patient, what it means to care for a peer, to be a friend to family, to be a sibling. I watch him struggle with balancing generosity and self-care. He often gives his brother whatever he wants, usually with a smile; but some days he’s fed up, and he lashes out. Somedays he’s happy to serve other people, and other days, he’s mad and wants to take care of himself. As his parent, I know both are needed, but he should probably shed the screaming and hitting.
Finally, I’m surprised that love grows. First with marriage, then with boy 1, I was surprised that loving them didn’t result in less love to give to others. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The more I love them; the more love I have. Of course, I didn’t think I would love Oli less or think I would have to redistribute my love, but until I held that warm, cozy, pinky, wrinkly baby in my arms, I had no idea how much love inside me is just waiting to be unleashed.
It is so shocking that a love that starts so complete and deep just keeps growing, and this can happen more than once.