You decide to check the mailbox. On your way up the driveway, you drop the stack of envelopes, flyers and bills. The wind is blowing and picks up the mail carrying it a little further out of your reach. The envelopes go in every direction and you find yourself trying to decide which envelope to retrieve first. You literally feel yourself try to turn in two directions at once as if that is humanly possible. Your brain is trying to calculate how to efficiently catch all the stray papers while your body can’t keep up. You might curse under your breath, you might be embarrassed by your lack of ease under pressure and there is even a chance you might cry. Well my friends, that is what it feels like to transition from one child to two.
I have been asked several times to discuss how that transition went for us. For some reason, the topic never really sparked an interest in me. Maybe because the first weeks of Huxley’s life were a blur. Thanks to cluster feeding, an achy post C-section body and hormones. Then we left the blur stage and moved into the ” WTH did I do to myself” stage. Basically this was the stage where the reality of two children- two who depend on you heavily- became very real. I can remember how long it would take me to pack our bags and load up the car just to take Parker to school in the mornings. It was all so new, so foreign, and so exhausting.
The reality is I thought I was busy with one child until I had Huxley. Now, I think back to Parker and wonder what I did with all my free time. If I knew then what I know now, am I right?
One of my biggest improvements on the grand scale of being a mom: I’ve learned to plan ahead. I figure out what could possibly be needed in the next few hours and have every possible scenario prepared for. On a trip to school, I have extra bottles, pacis, snacks for PJ, suckers just in case bribery is needed( fyi it usually is), and deodorant for me ( because I never remember in the hustle of the mornings to do it before) I keep extra outfits in my car, and toys for distraction. I have diapers and wipes hidden all over my house. Hand sanitizer in every bag I own, and extra bandaids, chapstick and sunglasses. For some reason, those are real prizes for Parker. I’m a big fan of bribery and I’m not ashamed to admit it. No judgement here, whatever works to keep your toddler in line.
Truthfully when I was pregnant with Huxley, I would have anxiety envisioning taking both kids to the grocery store alone or even loading them into the car by myself. How on earth would I do it? How many trips would it take? And honestly, it still gives me anxiety some days. But I just get it done. I do the best I can with what I have. And as mothers that’s what we do, we just get it done. We figure it out. We adapt. We evolve. We grow.
Sometimes I look at myself and feel incredibly empowered knowing I accomplished a grocery store trip with both of my kids alone… even if both of my kids were crying and the elderly were staring. Some women feel empowered starting their own business …. and then there’s me! 😉
As hard as some moments are; the chorus of crying, the continuous juggle of attention, the guilt for not giving your first born all they are accustom to receiving. All of it is worth it, when you see them love each other.
Now don’t get it twisted, my son isn’t the super sweet big brother you see on Instagram that loved their baby sister immediately and wanted to protect her instantly. He liked her. He tolerated her. But He was/is super jealous of her. And now, he is very very rough with her. Not intentionally, he just wants to play with her like he does his friends at school.
But that’s real life I guess. He is still a baby himself in some ways and understanding the concept of sharing can be really tough. He doesn’t quite get that she is more dependent than he is. He doesn’t understand that she is still fragile and can’t eat whatever. He wishes her to live with grandmama on rare days, or mentions he wants to go somewhere with just mama or daddy. He still craves the limelight of his parents full attention. But he is accustomed to her being in his life, and he understands that she is his. He lists her in his prayers at night when he names his family. So, he gets she isn’t going anywhere.
Someone asked me the other day, when did you get having two figured out? And I giggled. I’m still figuring it out. This new normal for us isn’t for the faint of heart but I will say it does get easier. I’m not sure if it’s easier because you are more accustomed to the chaos, your ability for multitasking grows or children get on some element of a schedule. Either way, you find yourself wanting to hide under the bed less and less.
So what have I learned from being a mother of two?
I have noticed my parenting has changed. I don’t stress as much over small things. Parker dresses himself pretty much every day for school. He never matches, he wears the same shoes every single day and he loves it. Old Molly would never never been chill with that. Two kid Molly encourages it. It’s one less fight for me in the morning, and one small lesson of personal responsibility for Parker. It’s a win win. Too many things to stress over that aren’t worth the trouble.
Give your first born a break. It takes time to transition so let them act out, and space to explore their new role. Take the few minutes to give them extra love ( and hugs) to understand their new life. It’s hard on them and they need your patience to work through it.
Your husband will be better equipped to help this go around than after your first baby was born. Ask for his help. Give him responsibility. He will still need your grace as he navigates his new role as father to two kiddos. It’s new for him too and he has some evolving to do alongside you. But make sure he is your partner, not another task for you. Teamwork makes the dream work!
And lastly, give yourself time to adjust. The dishes can wait, the laundry will still be there, peanut butter sandwiches for dinner are always a good idea … but those newborn days are fleeting. As you know, but the second time- you blink and your infant is crawling. Time flies so much faster this time around. Trust me. SOAK IT IN!
You will mess up. You will curse under your breath. You will likely cry…. but you will make it. Your heart doubles in size with the second child. Your capacity for love is larger, deeper and more powerful.
So with all this love, don’t forget to give to yourself some too.Being a mom of two is damn hard. But I have never felt more messy, imperfect and proud in all my life. No matter how imperfect I am, or how many times we have Chilkfila for dinner, my children will always remember how I made them feel. And how much I love them. So, focus on that, and let the other things fall where they land.