Like all new parents, my husband, David, and I made sure that our first child, Conrad, had everything he needed. His registry was brimming with baby must-haves: a heart-beating teddy bear to replicate the comforting sound of the womb, a bouncy seat, a swing, and an exersaucer. His bottles and bum wipes were always warmed. I fed him vegetables before fruits to make sure he didn't develop a sweet tooth. I disinfected every shaker egg in music class and every Starbucks table. During late-night crying jags I left messages with the pediatrician's answering service, undeterred by the doctor's request to do so only in the case of a "true emergency" -- whatever that was.
Fast-forward seven years. We've since had a second child, also a boy, Dashiell. There's nothing to buy because we already have it. And there's nothing to fear because my attitude is "Been there, done that." Now that my mothering pendulum has swung completely from over attentive to totally over it, I'm able to give myself and my second child something I never could with my first. I've given us a break. At 4, Dash is a roll-with-the-punches prankster whose first sentence was "I'm okay, Mom." When I see this robust little boy, I often wish I could go back in time to my new-mother self and tell her to raise Conrad in the more relaxed and confident way I'm raising Dash. I'd pour her a drink, then tell her to turn off the monitor, sit down on the couch, and listen to me count off the things she can stop worrying about, really. But since I can't time-travel, I'll share the four most important ones with you.