Remember when you had your first baby and you were filled with the irrational fear that you’d take them home and break them immediately? They were perfect and you wanted them to stay that way. Ah, those were the days.

The second baby? Not so much. It's called second baby syndrome and it's real.

The first time you read every parenting book. You bought all the right toys, gadgets, and recommended baby products. Everything had to be perfect. The second time? Not so much.

My first daughter was always dressed impeccably, never a hair out of place, food was specifically selected to meet the daily requirements of the food pyramid. She never sat in a wet diaper and she always got the exact right amount of sleep to play ratio. I doted on her and we read, sang, and cuddled together. Television was limited. We took classes and made play dates.

I’d see those poor moms in the grocery store with two and three children, looking overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I pitied those poor women. They were having complete meltdowns and screaming at their children who were simply asking for cereal. I’d guess to myself that they just weren't cut out for parenting.

Yeah, I was kind of an asshole.

Fast-forward four years and I’m the crazy lady with no mirrors in my house, screaming at the girls for asking me to buy them something, everything. Who can remember? They are always talking. They never stop and they talk over one another.

Why did no one warn me of second baby syndrome and how it might affect me? Suddenly my days went from having a handle on everything and endless patience to feeling like I had to run just to catch up.

I was drowning in motherhood.

I felt like the world’s biggest failure. My life became a giant blur of babies, diapers, milestones, noise, and chaos. I was blissfully exhausted. But I lost sight of myself and my expectations and standards had to change. They were lowered from unattainable to realistic. The fog of mommy magic was lifted.

Girl number two would gladly subsist on chicken nuggets and milk alone, every day, for the rest of her life. Most days I fight, barter, and beg her to eat something else, anything. I am her dancing monkey, if it will get her to eat healthier but some days I just say to hell with it and let her have the nuggets.

Many days she has left the house in her pajamas, her hair is seldom pulled back to perfection. She’s tasted Sprite and chewed a piece of bubblegum. I think she’s even been outside without sunscreen once or twice.

At the end of the day, both girls are loved unconditionally. They know this and they love having one another. They could care less if their hair is perfect or if they have every toy. I no longer suffer from second baby syndrome. I willingly embrace it.

Do you suffer from second baby syndrome? How do you deal with the guilt? How good is good enough and is there a prize for being the most devoted mom on the block?


Image via Deborah Cruz