We were sitting in McDonald's when someone from my mom's group said something simple but profound to me as I was feeding bits of cheeseburger to Logan (who was 9 1/2 months old at the time): "You never would have done that with Mia." She didn't say it in a critical way. It was just a statement of fact. I wouldn't have even thought to give Mia fast food until she was well on her way to her second birthday. But Logan was already over the stage of allowing me to spoon feed him and he knew how to handle ground burger, cheese, and bread, so I thought, "Why not?" and just offered it to him. That's the difference with the second child. You're so much more relaxed about things.
As a second time parent, I don't feel the need to call the pediatrician over every little bump, bruise, and tumble. I just go with my gut instinct about what is normal and what isn't. I've finally learned to trust that "momtuition" I have about my kids. I know when they're truly sick, and I rarely get out the thermometer for confirmation when I suspect one has a fever. The age-old hand on the forehead does the trick.
Logan eats just about anything, whether it's food or not. I've learned not to fight it. He puts everything in his mouth, no matter how hard I try to prevent it. I'm not nearly as concerned about germs as I was with Mia. Obviously, I don't let him eat things that I know are dangerous, and I draw the line at chewing on rocks. However, I've given up on stopping him from eating sand, grass, and dog food. It's a lost cause. Plus, I let him eat most of what we're having during meals. He seems happy that way, and it's just easier than continuing to make purees that he refuses to be spoon-fed. I will even admit that I let him have french fries for the first time recently. (I'm not saying that this is an example of fabulous parenting, but it kept him happy while we were in a restaurant and since he only has one volume level, sonic boom, this was better for everyone in that restaurant!)
Now that I have told you how having a second child has made me a bit more relaxed in my parenting style, let me tell you how I feel I have improved as a parent the second time around. First of all, I am home full-time, whereas before Logan was born I was a working mom. Second, we have switched to cloth diapers. This is better for sooooo many reasons, and I wish that I had realized this sooner. (see previous posts for more information) Then, there is the previously mentioned homemade baby food. I feel really good about that decision, and again, I wish I had done it with Mia, too. But I don't beat myself up over it because it's easier now to determine what is really important to my kids welfare. When it's your first child, everything seems like a major decision and you're afraid to screw up. Now that it's my second time around, I've finally learned not to sweat the small stuff.