Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Life After Emily

Last week I was complaining on Facebook that I needed some fresh ideas for blogging and I asked my friends for some prompts. Last time I did this it was fun to hear what your ideas were and this time was too. My friend, Emily, in Seattle suggested I write about how having a 2nd child has changed the dynamic of our family.

Emily (friend Emily) is the daughter of my high school science teacher, Mr. Butler. Mr. Butler was also my speech and drama coach and one of the coolest "adults" I had ever met. I truly believe some of the success I've had as an adult is because of the strong foundation he helped lay when I was in high school. Growing up without a father left me with some pretty strong insecurities with men and Mr. Butler, or Dave as I now get to call him, was amazingly influential. I spent many a study hall hour and long bus rides on speech and drama trips chatting up life, getting advice on boys and life and listening to Mr. Butler's stories (he had some good stories). Mr. Butler also appeared to have a really healthy marriage. I never knew his wife very well but he seemed to adore her, spoke highly and respectively about her and gave me an early picture of a healthy marriage built on trust and mutual admiration. Emily was his young daughter who is now a lovely and funny adult and whom I have reconnected with on Facebook. She just had her second baby and gave the timely prompt idea of how life changed with a second child.

Ok, so now you've got your background and you're all hip on who is who so how has life changed with a 2nd?

When I first read that I thought oh I will be able to write pages and pages about how life has changed but as I'm sitting here trying to write I can hardly think of one way. I think I'm having a hard time with it because it honestly feels like she's been here with us all along. Sometimes when Hot Jeff are feeling all nostalgic and talking about life before kids it feels as though we are talking about someone else's life. Hot Jeff's dad brought over some old VHS tapes last week and we were looking at them and they were shot before we had kids and it felt like I was watching a movie of someone else's life. That night when we went to bed exhausted and desperate I asked Jeff what he thought we used to do with all our time. "Time??", he laughed, "What did we do with all our MONEY?"

I think it is probably easier to think of ways life has changed since Emily when I get to go shopping or run an errand with just one of them. One is so manageable. I can't believe I ever complained about going to Target with just one child. Two kids adds a circus factor, truly it does. You kind of become your own walking freak show when you add more than one child. My mom had such a life of ease by having only one child. Not only was I delightful, intelligent and thoughtful but I was singular rather than plural.

On the flip side of sheer chaos, Emily has given our family a sense of completion. Although we would love to have a whole passle of midgets running around and wrangling up trouble we were almost 100% certain we were only going to have two kids so when Emily came along she put this wonderful, beautiful metaphorical exclamation point on our family.

If you ask Samuel if he remembers life before Emily he says 'yes' but I wonder if he really does. He was 22 months old when she came along and he, thanks be to God, has been in love with her since the moment he met her. I've been astounded, amazed, humbled and grateful that he's never been jealous of her. Now that she's older and so onry she stinks they have their moments but really--he adores her.

So, to wrap it all up, there are the tangible ways a second child changes things like, another car seat, another mouth to feed, one more person to put to bed at night but there's no way to describe the way my heart feels when I hear them laughing at one another in the back of the car, or when Samuel is at school 2 mornings a week and Roo misses him so much. I never thought I could hold so much love in my heart as I do for Roo. I was convinced that I loved Samuel so much there could never be enough for a second but somehow in some-magical-Roo way she made my heart bigger and my love more generous (now if only my patience would catch up).

One last thought. It is kind of depressing but its true. It makes me happy and brings me comfort to know that when Jeff and I are dead and gone Samuel and Emily will have each other. What a cheerful thought to end on. Haha.

Roo, if you ever read this someday, always know that you are the best thing that could have ever happened to the three of us. Thanks for making us four.


Rachel T. said...

Mr. Butler is pretty great. He was the only teacher who ever gave me a pink slip. And that was only after I begged him to give me one for days and days. It was the end of my senior year, and I didn't want to graduate high school without getting at least one pink slip.

Also, second kids are pretty great. I know, because I am one. Me and Roo, we got it goin' on!

Bluntforcemama said...

I keep coming back and re-reading this, hoping to identify, but now that Wills is a month old, I find myself still stuck in the initial phases of changing life.

Today is Chris's first day back to work after paternity leave. I think this is when it truly begins.