We used to be smug first time parents.
Dog parents, that is.
See, when we got our first dog Bessie, we just went to a shelter one day, found a pretty cute pup who seemed playful and friendly, and took her home. There was some puppy chewing of throw pillows and Playstation controllers, but for the most part, she was a freakishly good dog– well behaved, friendly, easy to get along with. Naturally, we thought this was all our doing. We’d go to other people’s houses and encounter unruly dogs who jumped up or begged for food or used the bathroom in the house, and we’d leave thinking to ourselves, what is wrong with them? They’re clearly doing a terrible job as pet parents! We’d think, if only they were as good as we are, they wouldn’t allow that behavior.
Then we got a second dog.
Olive, it turns out, is a vastly different dog, despite our clearly superior dog parenting abilities. In the years we’ve had her, we’ve been completely unable to teach her not to put her paws on us or attempt to climb in our laps or onto the furniture, both places she isn’t allowed. We have had to come to a very shocking conclusion: it’s not that we’re amazing dog owners, we just had a really amazing first dog.
This is a realization I think more first time parents need to come to. It’s a realization we’ve come to yet again as we parent twins who, at every turn, seem determined to remind us that they are very distinct individuals. It started when Claire began sleeping through the night on her own at about 3 months old. Etta still hasn’t mastered that feat. Baby sleep in particular seems to be an area in which everyone fancies themselves an expert. Particularly if they have one kid, the baby equivalent of a Bessie dog, they’ll happily tell you that all you need to do is exactly what they did, and you too will have a baby who sleeps through the night. I hope their next baby is an Olive, every time. Because even though we use the exact same techniques and parenting styles on both of our girls, one sleeps and one doesn’t. We can’t anymore take credit for Claire’s awesome sleeping abilities than we can the blame for Etta’s lack thereof.
The same thing happened with food. Claire took happily to purees quite easily (around 6 months), while Etta has always refused to let us spoon feed her. Several months later, at 10 months, and Etta has only recently decided that while she still hates purees, she’ll willingly chow down on any food she can hold in her own fist. Truly baby-led Baby Led Weaning. I can’t take credit for how either of my girls eats, really, either– they each just do their thing, and I figure out what that thing is through trial and error.
So, you parents of one baby who think you’ve got the whole sleeping and eating figured out through your superior skills? Your kid is probably a Bessie. The next one just might be an Olive.
7 Replies to “In which I compare having dogs and having babies”
This is fantastic. And exactly why I say, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I’ll happily give advice on parenting…you see, I’m the perfect parent because I have no children.
I hear you! I had my first, who was sooooo difficult. And my second, soooo easy. Both raised the same way. Had the last laugh when my friends who had the flip situation discovered a whole new world with their #2–who was crazy! :)
I often feel like I do very little raising of C and instead she is just raising me. It’s probably a bit of both, but you are so right about the sleep thing. You just have to see what kind of kid you get.
LOVE the legwarmers. Best baby accessory ever.
Nailed it! I thought I had parenting licked. My first never had a single temper tantrum. And then I had number two. If I take credit for the first kid, I’ll have to take blame for the second. And third.
Twin moms are the voice of sanity in many mommy wars. I get so tired of the smug “if you just did THIS” advice of moms of one amazing baby.
We have actually been debating this lately at Casa de Eby because the Bear is such a good baby 98% of the time. Did we do something right or is he just that good? I’m sure Baby Girl will be a completely different ball game and we will have to eat many of our words.
Yup. My first NEVER.Slept. Screamed for an entire year. I helped in the nursery at church one night and put a baby in a crib. He fell asleep. I was all, “Is he sick? What’s wrong?” Nope, mine was just a turd. I parented the second exactly the same (no, probably even more lazy, since I was still exhausted), and he slept. Whatchagonnado, they’re all their own people, right from the start.
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