I have a toddler and a 6-year old. We are a pagan, polyamorous, sex-positive, crunchy liberal household. You know -- all of those fun buzzwords that say we are progressive and I raise both of them to be the same way.
When I had my daughter, the sun shone blissfully every day. I had first-time motherhood down pat. I was amazing. My nine-month-old girl sat on the blanket where I put her and didn't move; she merely cooed happily and played gently with her toys. She was a paragon of maturity by age three. Wow, being a mom is super-easy, I recall ignorantly telling myself on more than one occasion. Did I mention I had a dream pregnancy and a TV-perfect delivery?
When she was five, along came her brother. Suddenly, the sun stopped shining quite so brightly. Why am I vomiting every day? I asked myself in confusion, face over the toilet bowl for what felt like the 500th time that day... in my last trimester. I developed SPD, which is a fancy acronym for "your pelvis feels like it is breaking when you walk."
Before I knew the biological sex of my little one, I thought I was super clever, calling the unborn bean 'Lentil' based on his size when I discovered I was pregnant. It has stuck. He is almost two now and everyone calls him by his nickname. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure if most people actually know his birth certificate name.
Several false starts and being kicked so hard the outside of my stomach bruised made me miserable. Lentil essentially decided to start labour -- and then stalled for a month in my pelvis. I was a miserable, fat, waddling, overly hot (insert more adjectives here) planetoid of rage and pain.
All this set the stage for raising a completely different sort of child than the radiant, perfectly-behaved sunbeam his sister had been. Lentil was and is fiercely independent, brilliant in a completely terrifying sort of way, a small powerhouse of chunky toddler emotions.
He is the sort of toddler that stars in articles designed to frighten first-time mothers into the reality of child-rearing. He has punched out my screens from the windows, bitten everyone in the house (including the pets), and should be the new Trojan mascot, in all honesty. Lentil is a savage anti-clothes activist and has refused to eat almost everything except berries (they have to be red or he hurls the offending plate across the room), peanut butter, and breastmilk. Going back to the crunchy thing -- extended breastfeeding is wonderful. Sometimes.
He is also the sort of child who fancies that he creates his own paint, if you get my drift, the Jackson Pollock of utter filth -- a shock artist who screams when he is oppressed by the anti-art government that I apparently head.
If my daughter was a perfect sunbeam, Lentil is a laser, a small, chubby laser that eats my books and then comes to me with small round arms outstretched to cuddle while he chews on their remains. I would trade it for nothing. I have the best of both worlds, and watching them both grow and learn is my most precious treasure.