19 Sep Why I Don’t Love My Two Children The Same
When I announced my second pregnancy, many mums (of more than one) were quick to tell me how much I would love my second child. They described how my heart would swell upon her arrival and promised that I’d love her in the same way I loved my son. To this day, I still hesitate to say it isn’t true – that I don’t love my daughter like I love my son. The truth is I love them both but equally, but very differently.
My son made myself and my husband parents and it was this intense experience of wonderfulness. Upon his birth, we were lucky enough to have a family room in the hospital for five nights. The sun streamed through the windows and I felt like someone had gifted me with the meaning of life and that no one, just no one, had felt as happy as we did right then. We’d made the most beautiful baby in the world and, when he looked at me, I felt like he could see into my soul. It was unconditional love at its rawest, and my very first experience of it.
All this was amplified by the fact that my son was a very easy baby. He was content being put down under a mobile, he was content in my arms and, most of all, he was content to sleep (for very long periods at a time). He made loving him very easy, and each of his milestones were met with tears of pride and claps of joy.
My son is a series of firsts. To me, he is that nervousness and excitement of the very first day of school. He’s the butterflies in the belly before a first date. He’s waking up early, as a child, on Christmas morning to see if Santa has been. He’s seeing that Santa HAS been and left your favourite toys. He’s packing your bags for your first term at University and anticipating what is ahead of you. He’s music festivals and staying up all night, and that very first kiss from a boy you like.
When my daughter was born I didn’t love her in the same way because, with her birth, I wasn’t changed since I had already been given the gift of parenthood. Instead, she started out like a stranger, who seemed intent on making me love her, with her chubby thighs and beautiful oval eyes of ocean blue. I felt like I was given two hearts, with the one for my son already full, and the one for my daughter being slowly drip-fed every single day. I’m not sure at what point the heart for my daughter started overflowing, I only know I felt it progressively – in a different way to the love bomb that went off when my son was born.
My daughter wasn’t the “easy” baby my son had been and on some particularly bad days the love dripping into the heart wasn’t as abundant but on other days the love poured so much that I felt like I might drown. But throughout it all, the love did keep dripping, steadily and consistently, much in the same way my daughter worked to make space for herself in our family. We embrace her milestones a bit differently, after all we’ve seen them before – but this time there are three of us cheering and clapping.
My daughter is experience. She is working really hard for exams and acing them. She is the long overdue meet-up with a friend and catching up where you last left off. She is being made a cup of tea exactly how you like it. She is driving to work in no traffic. She’s a warm home-cooked meal on a cold day. She is the feeling of accomplishment at putting down the last piece in a puzzle. She is holding the hand of someone you’ve loved for a very long time and she’s leaning in for a kiss without any awkwardness. She is coming home.
By Victoria Halliden