A few days after Josh was born, my friend Michelle asked if I had felt that same "instant love" at Josh's birth as I did with Owen. I know it's something that many parents worry about as they await the birth of their second child.
What I shared with Michelle (and what Scott and I talked about later) is that it feels like Josh has always been a part of our family... we just didn't meet him until his birth. As if we already had the love for Josh floating around our family, it just hadn't been assigned to anybody yet. It's now our privilege and our joy to meet the little boy that belongs to that love.
Michelle's question also got me thinking about how I love my boys - and the reality that I don't love them the same at all.
With Owen, I've had over 2 years to get to know him, to learn all the little things that make up his ever-changing personality. The more I get to know him, the more it seems like my love of him grows stronger, though I know I have always loved him with all of my heart. My love for Owen is also now part of a reciprocal relationship - I get to share that love with him and see some of that love flowing back toward me. It's the most amazing feeling as a parent when your child says "I love you mom" unprompted for the first (or 23rd) time. Owen is also old enough that we can have some little rituals to express our love.
For example, I've started reciting this little poem to him as I rub his back before bed:
"I love you from your head to your toes,
From your knees to your nose,
Inside and Outside,
I love everything about you."
I hope he remembers things like that down the road and I look forward to the time when I can do the same for Josh.
Loving Josh is a quite different. At this point, it's a love of his creation, an anticipation of the person he is going to become, a love of possibility and hope. Loving Josh right now really follows the old adage that "Love is an action word." Since we don't have the communication that I have with Owen, I get to express love purely through actions - snuggling, feeding, changing, holding, and sweet whispers in his ear.
After Owen's birth, I had the overwhelming realization that he was (and always will be) the baby that made me a mother. At Josh's birth, I realized that he is the baby that makes me the mother of BOYS. Both are amazing feelings, and the things I am most proud of in my life.
So, do I love both my boys the same? Absolutely not. Do I do love them both fully, with all of my heart? Absolutely yes.