Second Child Syndrome: Is it real (and does it matter)?

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Take a look at these pictures. On the left is my daughter’s first birthday back in 2009 and on the right is my son’s, which we celebrated earlier this month. There are some differences (for one? how did two brunettes end up with one superdark-haired baby and a towhead?) and a lot of similarities – same high chair, same messy face, both digging into a homemade cupcake and enjoying every bit of it.

The biggest difference is what you don’t see behind my close-cropped photos. My daughter rang in her first birthday with a huge backyard party – we’re talking out-of-town relatives, themed menu items, hand-made invites AND party favors and a slideshow of photos playing on the bigscreen in the background while at LEAST forty people mixed and mingled on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. My son blew out his candle at 4:30pm on a Wednesday (his actual birthday) to a small gathering of eight family members.

Recently this came up with another mom whose kids are of similar ages to mine and we both kind of sheepishly admitted our various reasons for not having a big party for number two’s first birthday. The conclusion (justification?) we both came to was the same: the kids won’t know the difference, right?

Second child syndrome. My friends and I joke about this as we have, one by one, each added a number two to our families. They wear hand-me-downs and don’t get first birthday parties, but on the upside they’re often more flexible, less fussed-over, and have the huge benefits of an older sibling to torture (and be tortured by) and a second-time mom who’s just a wee bit less paranoid about everything from fevers to sleep schedules to, well, planning elaborate birthday parties.

Birth order psychology is fascinating stuff, and whether or not you believe in its impact on our kids’ personalities, it is interesting to think about the differences in our first- and second-born children, and about how we as moms are different the second time around as well. I’d like to believe there are pros and cons to each position in the birth order and that with a liberal serving of unconditional love it all evens out in the end. At least that’s what I told myself at my son’s birthday non-party. 😉

What about you? Does your second child get the shaft? I’d love to hear from moms of more than two, too – by the next kid will I even remember what day their birthday is???

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Sarah Powers is a writer and Scottsdale mom of two. She came to the valley from Southern California by way of Chicago and would take Arizona summers over Midwest winters any day. A perfect day for Sarah starts with coffee, ends with chardonnay and includes lots of baby giggles and sticky-fingered kid kisses in between. She loves high ponytails, showtunes and using her kids as an excuse to stay in and go to bed early, which she would do anyway. Sarah often tweets and sometimes blogs about the messy, tender, fun, funny and irreverent moments of parenthood.

 

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