I'm so happy to hear stories of women who had a difficult time with their first babies and a much easier time with their second. I certainly hope that's the case for me too!
Now on to chocolatechip's questions...
Why am I a great mother? Uh... that kind of presumes that I am, LOL... I don't know that I'm *great* but I try my best. I certainly have an easy kid to love. She's sweet, smart, beautiful, and generally cheerful and has never had what one might term a behavioural problem. She never even had a decent tantrum as a toddler. So I don't think my parenting mettle has really been tested, y'know? She could have sprung from the most slack-assed parent on the planet and still turned out pretty decently.
But, I guess if I had to pick an aspect of my parenting that I'm most proud of, it's that I'm not a helicopter parent. I trust her as much as possible. I let her play outside on her own, I let her make mistakes, I give her the sharp knives to cut up veggies for dinner and I've always had kind of a "do what you think you CAN" policy. When she was little and exploring playground equipment I always told her "get yourself up, and get yourself down" and she went for it. (This was largely self-serving because mostly at the playground I wanted to spend time yapping with other moms, not hovering behind my child or pushing her up a ladder she couldn't manage on her own, but it worked well for the kiddo too.) I let her fall off stuff. I'll tell her when she's wrong, I try not to coddle her or white-wash things for her, and I've always tried to answer any questions she's had as frankly as possible. I'm no saint though, I'll freely admit that I bailed out of the questions on the mechanics of lesbian sex and told her that because I wasn't a lesbian I just had no idea, and seriously contemplated pointing her at some lesbian friends... but stopped because they are in their 50s, and childless by choice, and that would have just been cruel. But otherwise, I'm pretty open with her. I don't underestimate her ability to deal with stuff, I respect her choices in TV (and thank goodness those have been mostly pretty awesome and she likes documentaries for the most part... we had a brief foray into Power Rangers a while ago but fortunately she decided they were boring after 10 episodes where exactly the same thing happened every show.) and I try really hard to be encouraging without being pushy. I think one of the best things I did was to recognize that despite my long-held assumptions about how my children would be educated, homeschooling wasn't going to be the best path for her. I think that would have created a lot of conflict between us - we have a great mother-daughter bond but she learns much better from people who are not so close to her. That's just the way she is - and it's just the way I am. For so long I looked so forward to guiding my children's learning myself... but I was able to let that go. She's in an awesome school and learning the WAY that I would have wanted her to anyway - Montessori uses a lot of experiential techniques and a holistic methodology that I really like - and she relates to her teachers and the environment in a way that wouldn't have worked with just her and me. And I get to see a whole other side of her, in the way she relates to the other kids in her class (many of whom are younger than her, this year) and I'm proud of how much of a mentor she is to some of those younger kids and how much they trust her to help them. Everyone in the class likes and respects her - and that's really awesome to see. She does still learn a few things from me, of course - I'm Encyclopedia Mummy - but it's mostly random facts or explanations about Hows or Whys. And cooking. She learns a lot about cooking from me - but only when she feels like it. Once in a while I'll bribe her offer her compensation to cut veggies for me when I'm making dinner and want carrots or beans but don't want to put the work into them but mostly she "helps" with the cooking when it's treats that SHE wants to eat. Then I just get to feel like I'm sneaking in some homeschooling work on fractions.
As far as being a great wife... well now. There are some things that I am just not willing to discuss publicly, but involve me being incredibly patient and mature and possibly actually deserving of that title. More mundanely, I am an awesome cook, there are some household tasks at which I excel, and (if I get to take credit for this) my family is sick FAR less often than other families, which I attribute not only to good nutrition but also an ideal balance between sanitation and exposure to pathogens. I'm also a good wife for my DH in particular because my professional background is in the field in which he currently works (software development) so he can talk to me about work and I actually understand and can offer real insights and advice. I also encourage things like hunting and fishing - although again, it's largely self-serving as I am lazy about doing such things myself (I've skinned enough rabbits and cleaned enough fish that I'm just not *excited* by that sort of thing anymore) but I do like to eat them.
And as far as my DH goes - well, he is extremely handsome and brilliant (like serious genius IQ and can figure ANYTHING out - he's not just book-smart (he has a PhD in very mathy computer science), he can fix cars and anything mechanical and has done stuff like taking apart his grandma's ancient clock radio to fix the tuner so she wouldn't have to get used to a new one) but aside from saving us thousands of dollars in car and electronics repairs, the one thing I really appreciate about him is that he can PLAY. He's the dad that ALL the kids pounce on - the one who can immerse himself in their world and play for hours and hours, imaginary play, rough-housing, whatever. I can't do that. I suck at playing - I get bored, I have a hard time sustaining any kind of imaginative world - but he is SO good at it. Every night after dinner he and DD go up to our bedroom and fling each other around and pretend they're other people. DH lets her basically beat him up and he tosses her around in ways that I just don't want to watch, but she's always safe - I trust him completely - and she loves it, and I love him for it. Sometimes it means I have to be the stern disciplinarian - he is NOT so good at saying "no" to her - but it's worth it to see them so happy together.