3. It's enough already with the trinkets, toys, and trips to the souvenir shop.
Gifts follow first children like fairy dust. In Conrad's case, he'd open his hands for a gift when I'd come home from work, even back when he was 1. Getting a present wasn't just for special occasions, it was a way to spend the afternoon. On one trip to the Bronx Zoo, we tried to skip the gift shop, and Conrad had such a terrible temper tantrum that he vomited in the parking lot. I was pregnant with Dash and swore not to repeat this pattern with my second child. Dash was born into a world where No never meant sometimes and shopping wasn't part of our mommy-and-me time.
It was a happy coincidence that when Dash turned 1 and was catching on to the concept of presents and ownership, Conrad started coming home from school repeating, You get what you get, and you don’t get upset. I fed this line to Dash with every lopsided ice-cream cone, less-than-awesome Care Bear doctors-office sticker, and oddball gift from his grandmother. The difference is that Conrad sees YGWYGAYDGU as a stance. He knows it's how he should be, but it's not what comes naturally. Dash understands that YGWYGAYDGU is a way of life. I blame myself for Conrad's attitude. It's a consequence of having been a toy tease: Some days he got a gift just because, but not always, and he was too young to know why. The randomness was confusing. When I did say No, it made him campaign even harder. I became frustrated with Conrad's toy tenacity and saw a family therapist who explained that by sometimes giving in, I was unwittingly doing what's known as intermittent reinforcement, which is even more effective at teaching a child how to behave than consistent reinforcement. Every time I allowed Conrad's pleading to turn a No into a Yes, I made him believe there was a loophole to get what he wanted. Now, I have a bigger challenge with Conrad: I'm readjusting his expectations. My history with Dash is less messy. I shut down his requests and don't even hear the crying. He doesn't waste time on false hope, and I know that he'll be happy with whatever he is given. And if he's not, he'll move on to something else.
4. Sex is always important, but it's really important after you've had kids.
I was so obsessed with my role as a new mother that I put my marriage on the back burner. I didn t have time to look cute. David thought I looked bodacious after Conrad's birth, but I was in no mood to be romanced. I greeted his question about post-C-section sex with about as much enthusiasm as I faced the prospect of renewing my gym membership. I knew I'd feel better afterward - as I do after hitting the treadmill. But my body was sleep-deprived, my breasts leaked, I felt fat, and I had a Frankensteinish scar below my navel that was numb to the touch. Not hot As for my heart, I loved David, of course, but I was head over heels in love with Conrad. The intimacy of his falling asleep while nursing and my having to nudge his tiny foot to get his mouth to pop off my nipple when he napped was so new and satisfying I didn't need anything more. I was worried that I loved my son more than I loved my husband.