Second Place Revelations

"Of course she'll be ready for kindergarten next year, honey," my mother beamed over the phone, "She's bright, she's outgoing, she's your first child. She's the oldest." She's the oldest. I have often used this same phrase myself. I've analyzed myself, my friends, my enemies, and my husband to justify actions based on their rank in the sibling line. An inside understanding, if you will, I have shared with my husband, who's the oldest, and his friends (who are the oldest) and their spouses (who are the oldest). It's been a common fact in my world that I completely understand "The Oldest Child". They are confident. They are bossy. They are egotistical and outgoing. I should know, I AM ONE. A common fact, an advantage, as I saw it, until I had Ana. And now, suddenly I am the mother of "The Youngest Child". The youngest child has all sorts of stigmas! The youngest is spoiled. The youngest child has much looser parenting, less constraints, more freedom. The youngest is quiet and reserved because their older sibling has always done the talking for them. The youngest is less willing to move out on their own. Oh, and don't even get me started on "The Middle Child"!
Ana has recently become a contributing member of our family. No longer a pod who sleeps and eats and takes up one square foot of space in our house. She requires cooking, cleaning, bathing, attention, jeez, the list goes on and on! But suddenly, I've realized she has developed a strong personality in the short 10 months of her existence. She loves attention, and squeals when she doesn't get her way, she vocalizes everything as loud as possible and dives for anything within reach. She is not only "The Youngest Child", but was also recently realized to be "The Active Child". This means that taking her to the antique store is a liability. That library books are completely off limits. And dinner outings have screeched to a halt, now that Ana's around. Between the grabbing and the screaming we can hardly contain her at home, much less in public.
This evening I realized that all these stigmas and expectations are frustrating. Prior knowledge, for once, is a true disadvantage because I don't want to apply it to my unique and wonderful little girl ("The Youngest Child"). What can I do to assure her the same confidence and intellect as my first child? How do I apply myself as a parent to her in the same way I did with Shelby? (Okay, maybe I know the answer to SOME of these questions-blogging time, ahem-but I can't figure out how to fit them into my already hectic schedule). So, how do I spend four hours a day to stare into her big eyes like I did with Shelby? When do I take her to the aquarium and gymnastics and read her 7 books in one sitting and perform puppet shows?
Quite honestly, I DO have the time to apply myself as the enthusiastic, interested and doting mother I once was. I could be super mom (if I wasn't super housewife, super secretary, sorta super general contractor, super accountant, and super chef all in one day). I just have to make "The SecondChild" come first.

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