Rewind almost eleven years to when the Bear was born; she was my entire world. Every single thing that I did revolved around her and her needs. Our days were filled with cuddles and activities I thought she would enjoy, whilst her rare nap times were cherished and enjoyed.
Fast forward almost eight years later to the Lion being born and life was somewhat different. I had two children, not just one who was my priority. There was very little time to spend staring lovingly into his cot, when he slept it was the Bear’s time.
And if I’m honest even when he was awake, the Bear’s needs were firmly in my mind.
His naps fitted around school pick ups and drop offs, he was dragged to sports events and passed around like a parcel between the Bear’s friends.
My attention was divided. My love may have been doubled but there were still only the same number of hours in the day.
For a long time I felt guilty, as if by being the second he had missed out on all that I had given to the Bear. I realised he, unlike her, would never have the whole of me, he would always need to share.
But then I sat and thought.
And the truth is that when I gave birth to the Bear I didn’t have a clue. I was the first of my close friends to have a child, I had no idea what being a parent meant. So I made it up, day by day, winging my way through parenthood, making mistakes as I went.
She may have had the whole me, but it was a me much less confident and skilled in parenting than the me I am now.
She was and remains my guinea pig. Through her I learnt how to parent a baby, a toddler, an infant and a junior. And now between us we are winging puberty – a whole other challenge that I am definitely not prepared for.
She is not only my daughter, but my teacher.
She is the one who bares the brunt of my mistakes as I wing through life figuring it out as we go. The one who shows me when I’ve got it wrong and the one who rewards me with one of her rare smiles when I get it right.
Unlike the Bear who had me to herself for almost eight old years, the Lion will never have the whole of me. Even when she flies the nest and heads off to university – she will always be my baby.
But he does get a better me. Mummy version 2.0 if you like.
With him I am more confident, more willing to follow my gut, more sure of my decisions. With him I am less constrained by what others think is the right way to parent and more focused on what feels right.
But most of all with him I have a roadmap to follow and the benefit of the lessons I have learnt from the mistakes I made the first time around. From the mistakes I continue to make as the Bear and I pass through each new stage.
He may never have the whole of me, but he does have a more confident me.
As mummies there will always be guilt, no matter how hard we try to avoid it. We will always sit and wonder if we should be doing things differently and whether we are treating our children equally.
Sometimes though we have to sit back and remember, that different isn’t always less.
Equal doesn’t always mean the same.