I went back in my blog archives to February/March 2006, the period during which The Boss was the age that Number Two is now. At eight months old, they both weighed about 14 pounds. They both woke easily to the screech of the witching hour. They developed their motor skills at a slow idle, content as they both were to lay there, focused on fusing cells and neurons in a flurry that went unseen from the outside.
Of course there were differences, too. The Boss had two teeth by eight months, while Number Two's surly demeanor just makes it seem like he's teething. His virgin, non-swollen gums lead me to believe he feels fine and is simply not prone to exuberance. The Boss, on the other hand, was happy as a clam even as the calcium was rising in jagged peaks through her flesh. She didn't demand to be held as much as Number Two does; she was soothed by classical music in a way he is not.
The biggest difference, though, is in my perception. I took The Boss at face value because I had nothing else to go by. Her life unfolded before me in what I looked at as a natural progression. I didn't research developmental milestones in books or measure her against other children. Looking back on it, I am shocked and heartened by the true extent of my laissez-faire approach. I could have been worried about the fact that she didn't crawl until she reached eleven months, but I wasn't. And that's good, because there was no cause for concern. You'd think the validation would help me rest assured the second time around, but it hasn't worked that way. Where second children often meet loosened up mothers, I've grown more rigid. I'm worried that he's too small, too slow, too vacant in his big-eyed stare.
None of it is rational. Number Two is on virtually the same self-propelled trajectory as the one The Boss traveled two and a half years ago. My firstborn is happy, healthy and smart. But in the comfort of comparison is the source of the problem: I've lost the sense of wonder that can only come from slowing down and experiencing something for the first time.
He is my second child, but he's the first of him. I need to look at him in his own light, devoid of comparisons or superstition, to help me reclaim what I got right the first time around.