When I found out that I was pregnant with my second baby I was, of course, excited. Excited to see my firstborn become a big sister and excited to go through pregnancy, labour (yes, excited about labour) and raising another child.
As a second-time mum, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have absolutely no idea what I was doing. But when my second baby arrived, I realised that this was exactly the case. She forced me to throw nearly everything I knew about being a parent out the window.
So I had the basics covered (nappy changes, bathing, dressing, feeding etc.) but nearly everything else has been so vastly different. My firstborn started sleeping through the night at six-weeks-old, refused to eat any pureed food from eight-months-old, opting for a white food diet (hello carbs!), and has always been quite independent, social and happy to play with anybody.
Fast forward to baby no. 2 and 11 months in I am still up with her most nights, she loves all food and always likes to be within my arms reach, or, preferably in my arms at all times. My two children, while they share the same blue eyes and adorable laugh, could not be more different and to parent them the same would do them both an injustice.
The difference between my girls and my need to adapt my parenting style was evident right from birth. From the way my youngest would instantly relax when I held her against my chest, I knew that she was a much more sensitive soul than her big sister. The challenge for me has been to balance both of their beautiful personalities with what they need from me as a parent, helping each of them to thrive while remaining fair and equitable in how I treat them.
But more than how I parent my girls, I have also learnt so much about myself as a parent. Whatever I thought patience was before my youngest was born, I was completely wrong. Having two kids has taken the meaning of patience to a whole new level! Patience, organisation, consistency, empathy and understanding have all been redefined. As a mum of two I have had to sit back and look at who I am and how I can give two very different people the best of me to bring out the best of them. As they grow together I know this will only evolve as my children continue to teach me how to be a parent.
Despite all the challenges, I have also learnt more about my ability to love than anything else. As soon as my second daughter was placed in my arms, I knew that any concerns I had about loving another baby as much as I did my firstborn were completely unwarranted. My heart had instantly doubled in size, swelling to give her a place of her own in my heart forever.
So much of the time we talk about what we, as parents, need to teach our kids. But so often it is our kids that have so much to teach us as parents. The trick is to let them. To be open to learning about ourselves and our world, from the tiniest teachers of them all.