They say you grow up, from one moment to the next, when your first baby arrives. I don't know if that was true for me. In my mind at least, I haven't changed a bit. There's a now child to take care of and a family to support, but I can see myself blasting the foothills behind campus in Salt Lake, riding up the cols around Grenoble or floating around London on each day's new whim. I don't do these things because I don't have time for them but they're still there. You might say other things have become more important, and if that's what's growing up is, then maybe I've grown up after all. But this post is not about me.
This post is about the growing up, from one moment to the next, someone else had to do when my second baby arrived. Our son was born on Friday, and on the face of it, it should have been routine, at least for me. Things went pretty much as with the first one, except for my cluelessness. Five days later, mother and child are home and we're the same happy family, just bigger.
Two things took me by surprise, though, and they're related. The first is the size of the baby. He's tiny, despite weighing in at a good 800 g more than his sister when she was born. But I've got so used to holding my first baby that holding the second one was positively shocking. He seemed to weigh nothing by comparison.
The second surprise is the other side of the same coin. All of a sudden, my daughter has grown in one big leap. She used to be the fragile little creature who I held, all puzzled and full of doubt, in the hospital only minutes after she was born. She cried and I had no idea what to do. Over the next two years, she grew and developed and started performing all kinds of tricks, but she remained our baby.
By comparison with her little brother, she's suddenly big, her body heavy and her legs strong. It's four years until she goes to school, but how much more will she mature? She's a real kid already. Despite looking exactly the same as one week ago, she's changed beyond recognition – grown up if you will.
In the next few days we'll see how she handles the situation. For us it's easy. We saw it coming and see, however vaguely, where it's going, but she has no clue and no control. All she knows is that there's a fourth member to the family and she's not the undisputed number one anymore. Mommy is dividing her attention and will frequently have to say no.
So far Tapas is handling it well, but one can tell that she's struggling. At home, she kisses her brother gently and behaves in a rather grown-up way, but all her emotions escalate dramatically. When I pick her up from childcare, she clings to me neck in desperate need of love – never mind that she bounces there in the mornings as if to join the town's biggest party. Growing up isn't easy.