“The first child creates a family - the other children are born into a family already established.”
The other day I was asked about what the transition from one child to two was like for me. I had to think about it for a minute. Because even now, almost 16 months after we made that transition, it still feels like a blur to me.
It feels like a blur because it was a blur. Time did not stand still as my second born made her way into the world, not in the way that time came to a halt when my first born arrived. Why is it that the two experienced can be so different when they are essentially the same thing? New life. Ruth, my wonderful midwife for both babies, says it so perfectly in the above quote. When Liam was born there was this absolutely, brand new thing that formed. A family. Sure, I’ve always considered my husband and I to be our own little family unit even before kids, but the truth is it is different. We functioned differently. We loved differently. We needed each other differently. And then Liam was born. And we went from a marriage to a family. A whole new existence. A new entity. A new way of loving each other, seeing each other, needing each other. In a lot of ways it hurt. It hurt beautifully. The way that growing pains are uncomfortable but leave you standing just that bit taller. So that first child creating the family throws you so off your axis that time literally stands still. You forge a new path as you slowly start to spin again, a new being. A few years may path and your little family is now well established. You live fully into this place of belonging. You create rhythms and traditions and ways of loving.
This wonderful, warm, safe space is what all your other children will be born into. And so the whole world doesn’t stop when they arrive, instead it expands and grows and becomes richer. They get to slip into their place in this unit you’ve created, filling the spaces that were always waiting for them. Slightly less dramatic, somewhat less intense, no less beautiful or miraculous. No less precious. And yes, it is hard. The dynamics of your relationship with your first born shifts and grows and changes. You feel stretched by the increased amount of love you now hold and It makes you practically burst at the seems. But this time around, you don’t have to reinvent yourself. You know yourself within the role of Mama, you know your partner within their role as parent, you know your marriage within the dynamics of a child.
What a gift to be the first born and create that new family.
What a gift to be the second, third, fourth born and come into that established family. What a gift to be family.
What a gift.