Today our older son turns three. If you asked me on the day he was born if we’d be headed to Thailand for a quick vacation on his third birthday I’d say you were nuts. But then again, pretty much everything since that first day has been one crazy adventure after another.
The stars haven’t aligned for us to have his birthday party yet, and he rejected the birthday present we wanted him to pick out (a bike) because he won’t wear the helmet. So, we’re not exactly winning the Birthday Parent of the Year contest this year. I keep trying to tell him how much I love being his mommy and how important his birthday is, and he just starts playing with a toy or flipping through a book. He doesn’t care that it’s a big day for us. He doesn’t understand that the day your first child is born marks the end of the old you and the beginning of a new you that you haven’t quite figured out yet.
But his blasé attitude is the epitome of the parenting takeaway I’ve learned since our second son was born. I must let go of the moments that aren’t perfect—the bedtimes that are a little chaotic because I’m putting two kids to bed by myself, or the extra show my son gets to watch because I can’t cook dinner and entertain two kids at the same time. I used to spend so much time beating myself up when things didn’t go the way I expected, but now I don’t have time to obsess over every little detail anymore.
I think having a second child has made me a better mom. Despite the difficulties that the first few months with two can bring, Zach is an amazingly happy little guy that brings so much joy to our family, and Gabe is a wonderful and loving older brother. And although I don’t have time to focus on every little detail about their days, the bigger picture is pretty darn great.
Sometimes the child teaches the parent, and so I am going to take a page from Gabe’s laissez-fair handbook and just go with the flow on his third birthday and see where we land. I have a feeling it’ll be fun no matter what we do.
Happy birthday, Bear. Mommy and Daddy could not love you more.