Remarkably, the biggest change at the Gradin household is simply in our perception. There are all sorts of things that change when a new child is born into your family. Your free time dries up, your bank account empties, you become more selfless. But when you already have an older child, the thing we noticed was that the older child stopped being a baby in our eyes. I never realized how big he was – how big his hands were. It’s harder to carry him sleeping into his bed at night. This new addition, so small and defenseless, makes us realize in ways you can’t truly convey to anyone that she’s the only baby in the house. Perhaps Balthazar became “our first child.” Even though he’s only five years old, I sense that he’s more in charge of his destiny and in self discovery now. Sorscha, on the other hand, seems to have so much more malleable potential tied up in her.
I’m doing my best to ensure that I don’t lose sight of the treasures still to come in our first-born while our attention is diverted to this little girl. It can be a struggle keeping up with everything at home while still making time for me and Balthazar to play the games we used to play. Easing that, he’s recently really gotten into board games. I can keep an eye (and ear) on Sorscha while we play board games without being too distracted to give him my attention. It’s also easier to allocate this time, as our outside time has been cut short for the coming winter.
This experience of having our second child – some 5 years apart from our first – has given us new wisdom that I feel one can only gain through life.
One cannot fully appreciate what happens to the being at the birth of your first child. You undergo a transformation unlike anything before or after that moment. I remember seeing a baby born vaginally when I was an adolescent, and the experience gave me some spine-tingling chills that hinted at this fact. When we had our first child, the internal shift from my awareness of self: man, husband, child, protector, supplier, etc., went spiraling around and may have momentarily just been forgotten. It didn’t matter anymore. The thing I remember most – and perhaps something that sums up a great deal of this feeling – is that I lost my sense of invulnerability. Perhaps it’s passed on to the next generation – much to a parent’s chagrin.
Now at the birth of our second child, we see the real development of our first. Less of the initial surge of fatherhood that fills you, though a new awareness of everything that can’t be ignored.
I really mean to say that there are some lessons in life that we’re taught, but can never be appreciated until experienced. You were told that you’d one day look back at your school days and realize you were having the time of your life. You’re told that a child will change you. I’ve heard that time flies as you get older. “One day you’ll understand…” All of these things go unheeded as our elders press them into our heads. Being at the crossroads of naivety and understanding, I want to impart a sort of enlightenment to those behind me on the path. But who am I kidding? I’m just saying the same thing…