My husband and I chose to become parents again after raising our first two children. A rabbit did not expire nor did the stork deliver a package to the wrong address.
Because we adopted our newest daughter, I also did not have nine months of preparation for sleepless nights from the side effects of pregnancy — a compressed bladder, nausea, etc.
One night, I was peacefully sleeping undisturbed and the following up every hour. The pictures of my husband and me from those days show sheer exhaustion. We are both smiling broadly, which shows our blissful emotional joy, but deep, dark craters under our joy-glazed eyes tell another physical side.
Our daughter was 19 when her title as youngest child was stripped from her by the addition to our family of her newborn sister. We would pass each other in the hallway, her coming home from a night of youthful partying and I heading to the kitchen to warm a bottle or back to bed with my newborn, snuggled contentedly in my arms.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Mom?” Christie asked. I would just smile that all-knowing smile that a mother possesses when all is right with her world and she is exactly where she wants to be and knows that nothing will convince the person on the other end of her sanity.
While my husband and I are not alone as older parents in today’s world, it has given us some moments. I would suggest these helpful hints for all starting-over parents:
• Take naps. Nap anytime the baby does and if you have any luck at all, this child will still be taking naps until the age of 18. You still won’t catch up on your rest, but hey, you chose this!
• Ignore those who will inevitably call you the baby’s grandparents: Color your graying hair to minimize this situation but remember you will have to give up precious nap time to do so.
• Understand there was a reason most humans have children at a young age. You will never have the energy and stamina to keep up. Become adept at faking it. Remember that your patience and knowledge more than make up for it.
• Apply for handicapped parking permits. You will need to park closer as it is really hard to carry that baby to and from, let alone you need a master’s degree to figure out how to open and unfold those newfangled, combination strollers.
• Find young parents for friends: Your friends have already been there, done that, and don’t want to do it again, and you will need support and co-op babysitters.
• Search libraries for a book on sibling rivalry: No, not normal sibling rivalry but the jealousy of an adult sibling for the new baby. Parenting magazines don’t deal with this issue
• Realize you will never convince the older children that you weren’t stricter on them — you were and rightly so. Parenting is always a learning process, even when doing it over.
• Most importantly: Make an appointment with a therapist soon, if for no other reason than to talk to someone without using the words “goo-goo” and “no-no!”
• Do enjoy parenting with the confidence of having survived it the first time around, and kiss that special spouse who was brave enough, or arguably crazy enough, to begin all over again with you, following hearts and not society’s restrictions.
And to my partner in crime who chose this path with me: Love you dearly, hon.
— Beckie Miller
Beckie Miller began writing after the death of her son who was robbed and murdered in 1991. She has served as chapter leader of Parents Of Murdered Children (POMC) in Phoenix for the past 20 years and has won numerous awards for her service to crime victims. Married to husband Don for 41 years, she has three children — “one who soars in heaven,” son Brian who died at age 18; a daughter Christie, 36; and a daughter Kimberlie, 16. “Writing not only saved my life through an emotional roller coaster of a grief like no other, but it gave me an avenue to sing my son’s silenced song,” she says.