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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 23, 2009

Raising 2nd child another thing entirely

By Monica Quock Chan

"What's it like to have one versus two children?" I asked our pediatrician a few months before our second child was born. The Doublemint chewing gum commercial came to mind. Would two keiki be double the trouble, or double the fun?

"After having one kid, you think, 'I've got this parenting thing down,'" he replied. "Then along comes No. 2."

Yes, becoming parents of two certainly humbled us. Things were going fairly swimmingly with our firstborn, a toddler, when our boisterous bundle of boy entered the family.

Immediately we noticed that our downtime was virtually eliminated. When our firstborn napped as a newborn, there was ahhh blissful quiet. Now, however, whenever our infant slept, our restless toddler would be clamoring to play.

The time required for everyday activities such as baths or dressing was now doubled. Space also became scarce, with two cribs, two car seats and a bulky double stroller.

"That is a LOT of stuff you're carrying," commented our neighbor when we were attempting to go out to dinner with both booster seats, the stroller, plus a diaper bag stuffed with his and hers (and I don't mean me and my husband's) necessities.

No longer could my better half and I trade off child care responsibilities. For example, when our daughter was an only child, one of us would feed her while the other ate, and then we would switch. Now it was 1:1.

We had to learn to manage not only tyke No. 1 and tyke No. 2, but their interactions as well, which consisted largely of vying for our attention and tussling over playthings. The guilt factor crept in, with my husband and I wondering if we'd ever be able to provide enough time for and attention to both keiki. Humbling, indeed.

How do single parents or families with multiple kids manage when the little ones outnumber the parents? Or how about my auntie who raised five children she and my uncle didn't even have one arm for each child. And I can't even imagine how my maternal grandmother raised nine keiki on her own for 15 years.

The rewards of having more than one child, though, are likewise manifold. Even with just our two, we can see how they have grown from frequently squabbling over toys to at times enjoying one another's company. In those latter moments we hope and pray for the best: that their sibling bond will provide a lifetime of 'ohana belonging and love.

Monica Quock Chan is a freelance writer who lives in Honolulu with her husband and children.