Life After Birth: When One Becomes Two
Something I was asked all the time when I was pregnant with our little girl was, "How are you gonna deal with two?" And the fact is I am still trying to come up with an answer.
I was never afraid of not being able to love her as much as I love my son, though I know that some mamas do have trouble with that at first. What really terrified me was how I was going to split myself up into enough pieces to make sure that I was giving my kids everything that they needed. It seemed impossible.
And most days it still is.
I have a strong-willed, loud, larger-than-life toddler who was going to have his world blown up by introducing a baby sister, and now that she has a personality of her own I'm starting to realize just how much his world has flipped upside down.
It's easy for me to forget that he needs mama just as much as baby girl, just in different ways. I get frustrated with him after responding to the 30th, "MOM," or want to pull my hair out when I have given him four different choices for lunch and none of them have been eaten. While at the same time being very quick to soothe, pick up, or be attentive to our babe when she needs me. He notices. And that kills me.
I am still trying to find the balance.
When a one child household suddenly becomes two, there's no real way to prepare. You can try your best to teach your older child about sharing, and personal play, and inside voices, but until you are actually parenting both kids you have no concept of the ins and outs of taking care of each of them and how that wears on you.
Oh and taking care of yourself. That should probably fit in there somewhere, but I haven't exactly figured out when and where that takes place.
Today was one of those days when our baby girl was whining and crying and sniffling all day (she's cutting 2 teeth) and our big boy wanted help with his puzzles, read his new library books, and oh yeah, the park. Always. The. Park. And I was infuriatingly aware of how skewed the scales were in baby's favor.
And I felt bad. And there are a lot of days when I feel bad.
I feel guilty that I'm not able to split myself into more for them.
And somedays I put them both in bed and give them sweet kisses (and more hugs and more kisses) and close their door and sigh with relief because I don't have to think about being anything extra for anyone else. Because my husband loves me in all of my sluggish, tired, worn out beauty. Bless him.
So in an effort to calm my nerves I reached out, and after talking to some of my best mama friends (who have braved the waters of 3, 4, and 5 kids), I'm pretty sure that I'm normal.
It is normal to feel like you're doing your best to do it all, but someone's getting the short end of the stick.
It is normal to cry a little when your baby is screaming from diaper rash and your toddler is screaming for apple juice and you have had a headache all day.
It is normal to feel like you don't have your act together. When I asked how long until things start to click, each mama had a different answer for me:
"About a year."
I'm encouraged by the fact that some days are going to be better than others, some days I'm going to feel like I am giving both my kids exactly what they need, and other days I'm going to fall short. And that just means I'm figuring out how to be the best mom I can.
There's a phrase that I've been repeating to myself since baby was born that helps me everyday--
Not perfect, just present.
Being present for your babies and trying your hardest to fill their days with love and smiles and laughs and (hopefully) naps is just what every mama is trying to do and none of us is perfect all the time.
So if you're feeling anything like me, and your transition from one to two has been filled with some personal mom shaming, then try your best to remember that you're not alone. We're all mamas trying our best.