It's only now, that I'm going through all the milestones again with child number two that I realise how stressed out I was with my first born. I worried about literally EVERYTHING. I was so clueless and a completely nervous wreck during his first few years and all it took to calm me down was having another child and throwing my life into such total chaos that I no longer had the time or energy to stress.
My youngest son started playgroup this week, the same playgroup his older brother went to, but for me it almost seemed like a different place. I remember entering it for the first time with such trepidation and seeing nothing but hazards and obstacles for my son. He had been at home with me from the beginning so it was a hard adjustment for both of us when he started and I felt horrifically guilty for not preparing him better. He couldn't drink from a non covered cup without spilling and I watched with envy as the other kids dived into their snacks and drinks like perfect little role models while my child sat like a backward outcast on the end. Of course, what I didn't realise was that all kids are the same at first, within a couple of weeks he was as well versed as all the others but it's impossible to know that when its your first. I was so awkward and nervous with the other Mums, not knowing where to stand or who to speak to. Dithering about the place and stressing the playgroup staff would think I was some sort of failure or a complete mental case. But I was just like every other Mum out there trying to settle their first child into a new environment.
Now fast forward to number two. He's a completely different kettle of fish having emulated him big brother from day 1. Already proficient with the dreaded cup and used to battling to get himself heard, he strolled into playgroup without batting an eye and adapted quicker than either me or my eldest had first time round. And suddenly I understood, I saw again all those cool and collected Mums from my first experience and realised that for them it was child number two and their turn to enjoy it rather than stress. And of course, this time that's what I'm able to do. Enjoy it. Remove the stresses of the first time parent and you can see so much of what you missed last time around. You can bask in your hard earned knowledge and stroll around rather than running at full tilt.
But of course, along with the hard won experience comes the guilt. The devastating guilt that your first born never got the calm collected laid back you, they had to find their feet with overbearing control freak Mummy who was convinced they were going to hang themselves with some little girls hair band!
So, dear boy, I am sorry you didn't get the best of me. I'm sorry you had to put up with me learning on the job and you'll likely have to put up with a lot more as we continue our journey together. But being the eldest does have its perks. You got me all to yourself for the first two and a half years and you'll never get the hand me downs!
And to those wide eyed first time Mums, those of us who look like we've got our shit together were in your shoes once. Things are never as scary as they seem. And we'll still be doing the big freak out dance for our first born's next big milestone too!