That’s right. What a difference a babe makes. Or four. You see, Luke, pictured below, is our fifth little bundle of joy and, as such, my wife and I have noticed a huge difference in how we’re raising him versus how his siblings were raised.
Before I even go on, I want to make one thing clear: I’m not being critical of first-time parents. Raising a baby is a big deal, y’all, which is exactly why first-time parents (typically, at least) are a bit more uptight than parents who have been around the block a time or two. (It’s also why, I believe, that there’s something to the whole birth-order personality traits, but that’s another post, entirely.)
So while my wife would throw a parade whenever our oldest sprouted a new tooth, I’m not sure she could even tell you how many teeth Luke has. I know I couldn’t. (Though I think it’s five.) And while 911 was dialed each time our oldest sneezed, poor Luke has had a runny nose for three days now, and we’re still waffling on whether or not to call the doctor.
There are several reasons for these differences. First and foremost, the more often you do something the less of a big deal it becomes. And that means we just don’t fret over things the way we once did. The perspective gained from repetition makes us better appreciate that babies were once raised in caves, for crying out loud.
Also, there’s the little matter of the babies we did fret about to the nth degree – aka the older siblings. Even if Caroline and I were still completely and totally freaked out by the concept of raising a baby, even if we did want to stop the world and hold our breath each time we contemplated our little one, it’s not like we’d have time to obsess the way we once did. Not with a multiple-sports-playing 10-year-old and 4-year-old triplets running around. They need parents, too, you know. So life forces parents to make less of a to-do about their second, third and fourth children. And that’s probably a good thing.
But, also, the more babies you raise, the more perspective you have on what it is, exactly, you’re trying to accomplish. And that, to me, is this: raising happy, healthy individuals. Which means by the time you get to your second, third or fourth child, you’ve learned from experience that being an early walker didn’t guarantee that your oldest was going to be a child prodigy. Or that being a late walker wasn’t something that relegated your child to a life of failure.
So often, Caroline and I were tempted to compare and contrast our babies with the outside world. And with triplets, it was tempting to compare each to the two build-in measuring sticks sitting in the same room.
But individuals aren’t always meant to be compared. Or over-analyzed. They’re often meant to be celebrated. And their futures aren’t set in stone based on percentiles scribbled down on the form your doctor sent you home with after the ten-month checkup. No two people are alike. We all go at our own pace. We all have our own strengths. We’re all individuals.
And all of that is why I think we’re enjoying Luke’s infancy so much more than his siblings’. Those infancies were great, too, but all the angst, all the consternation and all the predicting of the future was taxing. And that stuff’s gone now.
I’m not 100% sure how old Luke was when he first rolled over. And I don’t care that he’s not taken step number one yet. What’s more, until I typed that last sentence, I hadn’t even given it a moment’s thought.
Because I’m too busy enjoying the individual who is miraculously developing before my very eyes. (Well, that, and too busy tending to his siblings…) I love who he was yesterday. And I love who is today. And I’m done trying to guess who he’s gonna be tomorrow.
Because I already know. He’s gonna be Luke.
And I’m so incredibly good with that.