THE BLOG

Why Raising My Second Child Feels Harder Than the First

06/04/2012 04:18 EDT | Updated 08/04/2012 05:12 EDT

When I fell pregnant (should I say fell, got, disappeared into a fog of exhaustion and nausea?) with my second child, I remember being in a hazy panic at the prospect of losing more sleep. How on earth would it be possible to fit in another child?

I don't mean in terms of space (although I have to move my beloved office if I want the baby not to sleep in our room anymore), I mean I was worried how to fit another child into our lives. Navigating the complicated balance for any parent who is trying to work while trying to do the best for her children demanded a mental compass I didn't have. One child felt manageable, two felt impossible.

My mum was puzzled when I tried to talk to her about my worries. "Um, you just get on with it," she advised. "Stop worrying." (Although isn't worrying a default occupation for parents?)

Now my daughter is nearly a year old, my son is nearly three, and I'm having a rare moment of insight. It seems to me that getting on with it is exactly the way to manage children and writing books (or whatever your job may be). I'm sure it's terribly British to imagine that bucking up and soldiering on is the way to parent, but maybe there's something to be said for not worrying about how to do it all.

I have to let things slide, I have to miss deadlines when one of my children is sick, I have to let them battle it out when I have something crazy important to attend to, I have to relax into the ups and downs of not being able to control my days (or nights, come to think of it).

It was probably my fault for ever thinking that I had any control in the first place, but I've definitely learned with two children that my notions of control were bonkers (if I'm going to be British about it, I might as well go the whole hog).

So, I get on with it. I do get to write, sometimes. And when I do, I write as hard as I can, stuffing words onto the page and trying to get coherence out of the foggy 3 a.m. ideas that spring to mind. It means a lot more editing and a lot less productivity, but looking at the two of them giggling or fighting over a sock (what is the attraction with socks?), I'm sure that not worrying if I'm up to par as a parent or as a writer is probably the only way for me to be able to keep doing both.