Occasionally you will hear a discussion among mothers about which number baby is a bigger adjustment. Typical answers:
- The first, because you are new to motherhood.
- The second, because you must balance the needs of two.
- The third, because you only have two hands, or because the children now outnumber the parents.
When I ask the mothers for more details, I often find that the answer has more to do with the individual personality of the baby than the number of children in the family.
I have been thinking about this in preparation for my upcoming annual trip to the US, to visit my father. I always agonize over which children to bring, because my husband stays here works most days but still has to be responsible, on some level, for the ones left here. Last year I brought numbers 3, 5, and 6. This year 1, 2, 4, and 6 are the lucky ones.
In general, I avoid labelling or comparing my children. But in my family, 1, 3, and 5 are the quiet, even-tempered ones. The other three are also good-natured, but when stressed their anxiety or frustration level can go from zero to ten in a matter of seconds, and they tend to get overexcited when happy, too. (“Odd”-tempered, but even-numbered?) I am hoping that the little one (3) will outgrow this, but judging by her current bounciness I don’t expect it. My husband just commented this morning on the number of her bruises, most recently a cut lip from taking too many stairs at once.
I looked back over the years and asked myself: Which pregnancies were the most difficult? 2, 4, and 6. Which births were difficult? Only 4, thank G-d. Which after-birth adjustments were the most challenging, involving extenuating circumstances? 2, 4, and 6. (Perhaps I will write more about these another time.) Which babies were “harder,” meaning that they cried more frequently, needed more holding, and didn’t settle easily? You guessed it.
I’m sad to leave any of my children behind, but at least I know not to expect a quiet, boring trip!