My son, my first-born. He came into this world with a glisten in his eye, I’m sure of it. For first time parents, he was a little cherubim full of smiles that we naively took as validation that we were nailing this mom and dad business.
Then when he was seven months I became pregnant with another. No, we didn’t plan it. Yes, we know how babies are made.
It took five positive tests for my husband to move from shock to acceptance. Then we quickly dove in to excitement mode that we would be growing our family and thought we were ‘so clever’ for ‘getting it over with’.
My daughter was a high maintenance gal who quickly showed us the space and decibel level which she would maintain in our home and hearts. She was tough, having two toddlers was tough, but I needed it….
1. I thought one was hard
I needed to realize that having one wasn’t as hard as I was making it out to be. I needed to learn I was hiding behind the ‘but I can’t, I have a kid’ excuse when there was something I didn’t feel like doing. Because once you have two you realize that having one kid is easy. It is like having a little buddy with you everywhere you go, even if little buddy sometimes acts like a feral goat. Then you have two and these two goats become a herd with caveman-like tendencies. When you have one kid, you call it parenting. After having two, any time you get with just one kid is called a ‘date’.
2. Time to stop babying them
Having a second so soon made me realize I was still in baby mode with my first. Granted he was only sixteen months when his sister showed up, but having her made me put a little more expectation and responsibility on him. Something he was ready for and adapted to. Something I wouldn’t have done so readily without this push.
3. Some healthy neglect, of my camera mostly
They say each progressive child is slightly more neglected (I like to call it ‘becoming independent’) and their milestones pass with less fanfare. This is a saying for a reason. When I go through old videos of my son I realize I painfully documented every roll-over attempt, every new food he tried, every outing he ever had.My daughter’s digital history is a much more digestible highlight reel of the major points. I don’t think any first time mom realizes how enamoured and engulfing that baby can be. My second child taught me it is better to prioritize and make room for the special things, so that there is room left over for me, as a woman, not a mom (and free up some space on my hard drive too).
4. We had more to learn
When you have an adaptable and happy baby people make comments. ‘They are always so happy! Why are they so happy? Is there something you give them to make them this happy? This isn’t normal, tell me what you are doing’ Eventually you will walk around with this assumption that you know what you are doing. This will also be the exact moment that you are most likely NOT to know what you are doing.When a second baby comes along, you will assume it will be like the first. Instead you might get a baby who always cries, who turns your life upside down and makes you question everything you know.I will say that the first year of my daughter’s life was the hardest year of mine. I was humbled, broken down and rebuilt. Now that the dust has settled I will say without a doubt that I am forever grateful for that year. It was a crash course in facing the realities about myself, my marriage, my parenting, my beliefs and gluten free foods.
5. I could do it
I had this horrible reaction of saying NO to everything. Like most moms, I am the gatekeeper of schedules, plans, meals, appointments, and chores. I felt so overwhelmed with two toddlers that I became over-reliant on my husband to ‘save me’ whenever he was home. The real reason was I didn’t believe I could do it, at least not without losing myself, and I wasn’t willing to give this up yet. There comes a point though, when you realize you are capable, that even when you give yourself fully into motherhood you can still find yourself at the end of the day.
6. There is always more When you find out you are having another baby you will wonder if you have enough. Enough love, enough patience, enough energy, enough time. Aside from watching the special sibling love between your children fill their hearts, you will find out your own heart will always have enough. The beautiful thing about being a mom is that every day you are drained of everything: time, patience, energy, love. But every day there is more. They are the harvest of your heart, which always has enough.
Stay tuned for a post a year from now titled “Why I Needed Three Kids Under Four” or “When They Say Stop at Two, They Might Be Right”…..