Having a child was a life-changing experience. As is the case with many new moms, I had no idea about what to expect and really struggled to know what I was supposed to do.

I turned to friends for help, and read every blog I could think of in search of the parenting manual I thought should have been given to me along with those mesh panties when I left the hospital.

When it comes time to have child #2, in theory you would feel more prepared. After all, you have done this before.

But this transition was life-changing once again. As my second baby just turned 2, I have caught myself reflecting on how different things have been with my daughter than they were with her older brother.

Here are some of the things I have learned as a second-time mom.

There is no need to compare yourself to other mothers.

After my son was born, I had no idea what I was doing! I looked to all of my friends who had kids before me to learn what I should and should not be doing. While it was helpful to have some sort of guidance, I learned that what was best for their kids might not have been what was best for mine.

I did not have the confidence in my own abilities as a mother to trust that I could make decisions that were different from those around me. Now that I have been around the block, I know that I know what is best for my kids. I still talk with my friends and we discuss “best practices” when it comes to what we are doing with our kids.

But at the end of the day, I will not compare myself, or my kids, to others.

More expensive does not mean better.

As a first-time mom, I was so overwhelmed with all of the choices in baby items. Like all parents, I wanted to choose the best and safest products for my children. And I felt like if something had a higher price tag, it must be better. It must have something more to offer, right?

Wrong!

There are so many absolutely wonderful products out there at all different price points. There is so much stuff to buy for your babies, most of which they will use for a shockingly short time. It is OK to stick with budget-friendly items. Just because they don’t come with a high-end label or a fancy design, that your baby will inevitably mess up anyway, does not mean they are any less effective at what they are supposed to do.

What they say is true. All kids really are different!

You hear this all the time, but it is hard not to have certain expectations for your child as you see what others around them are doing. This is especially true of second children.

Having gone through these moments with their older sibling, it is easy to assume that things will be the same. While a lot of it will, a lot of it will be very different. It is so important to let go of those expectations and let each child grow and develop on their own time table.

Focusing on each child’s individual needs as best as you can will allow them to thrive in the way that they should.

You will make mistakes and that is OK.

When I first became a mom, I felt like everything I did had to be prefect. It was almost as if I had to prove to people that I was cut out for this job.

In reality, I was far from perfect. I did things I would do differently looking back (very differently).

And I wish I was a little easier on myself about all of this. Being a parent is hard work, and it is a 24/7 job. No one is going to be at their best all of the time, and that is OK.

Our kids are not expecting us to be perfect. They just need us to be us.

You will feel like you are taking something away from your first-born.

No matter how old or young your first-born is when you introduce a sibling into their lives, you are going question if there is enough of you to give to another child.

As a mother of one, I was able to give every bit of myself to my son. He was my priority and he knew that.

One of my biggest fears in having a second child was how would I be able to meet their distinctive needs simultaneously? The reality is, there are times that I am not able to. There is one of me and two of them. So as much as a want to, I can’t always accommodate things like I used to.

Despite these shortcomings, I know that giving my son a sibling has given him so much for than it might have taken away.

It is possible to love a second child just as much as you love your first.

It is truly incredible how much your heart can grow with the birth of a child. After my son was born, I learned of a love that I could not have possibly known before. After my daughter was born, the same thing happened.

It is amazing how you can truly love each of your kids with your entire heart!

Talya Knable, psychotherapist and Jmore parenting columnist, stands in her Lutherville home. (Photo by Steve Ruark)
(Photo by Steve Ruark)

Jmore parenting columnist Talya Knable is a psychotherapist who lives in Lutherville with her husband, Stephen, and their two children, Jack and Leigh. Her website is tkpsych.com/. She is also the assistant clinical director of Shalom Tikvah (shalomtikvah.org/), a local non-profit organization that supports Jewish families facing mental illness and other challenging life circumstances.