I was told that the first year with two kids, especially kids that are close in age, is the hardest. After that, things tend to get easier. But does juggling chainsaws really get easier? I don’t have firsthand experience juggling chainsaws, but I imagine that while you may gain slightly more confidence and become accustomed to the risk and danger associated with juggling such dangerous objects, it’s never easy and there’s a small margin of error for things to go wrong. Very very wrong. Such is life with two, and I can only imagine, three or four kids (shudder).
You have the obvious things that make year one the hardest – you’re recovering from childbirth. Whether you squeezed out a watermelon from your lady business (10 centimeters, my ass) or delivered via c-section, your body has been through a battle to bring that baby into this world. And unlike the first time, there is no leisurely laying in bed watching a newborn sleep in the bassinet beside you. There is a toddler, usually hangry, that demands your attention and does not give a shit about the miracle you just performed. His show needs to be on NOW and his milk must be served in his Paw Patrol cup. You’re trying to figure out how to divide your love and attention to two human beings that are equally needy in completely different ways.
Year Two, things do get slightly easier. I won’t deny that. Olivia is much more independent. She can feed herself, which is a huge win in my book. I am not sorry to admit that I did not enjoy spoon-feeding Olivia. With one kid, you have the luxury of spending 45 minutes to try to feed them 3oz of a food puree that you made yourself with love, sweat, and your food processor. Second time around, your kid better make like the competitors during a Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest because momma has things to do. This is partly why I think I embraced (parts of) baby led weaning. I have time to make sure you don’t choke on your food, but it also frees up my hands to multi-task and do the thousand other things on my list.
In year two, the positives also become negatives in some cases. Your infant has graduated from a blobby accessory to you and your toddler’s outings and has become a toddler of her own. A vocal toddler with little legs that move like greased lightning, almost always in the opposite direction of her brother. The ability to set down your immobile baby while you tend to other things is completely gone. No longer can you keep your youngest complacent in the stroller with an offering of magical Puffs while you run after your toddler. Both kids are on the move and usually not together. On the occasion that they are together, it typically means that little sister is trying to keep up with big brother as they scale playground equipment that is definitely not age appropriate. The majority of my conversations at the park are interrupted as I take off in a dead sprint to help Olivia as she climbs up something she shouldn’t be.
While my heart swoons for obvious reasons when I see these two playing peacefully and quietly – the reported silver lining to having two kids close in age – I know it’s short-lived as anything and everything can spur the next fight. They love hard, but they fight harder.
In the first year, my heart about dropped right through my leaking boob when AJR looked at me in the middle of a nursing session and asked that I put Olivia down so he could climb into my lap. AJR has gotten over some of his jealousy issues, but replacing that is Olivia who is now aware of the fact that she is not the center of my universe. Her jealously usually manifests in bites, hits, and of course, doing her best Godzilla impression on whatever it is that AJR and I may be working on at the moment. Our Picasso tile creations got destroyed literally six times in a five-minute span.
It’s not only mom’s love and affections that need to be kept equal. Year one, things flew blissfully under Olivia’s radar – bribes of candy and iPad time to get AJR to behave or nap were offered up loudly and publicly. Now I have to whisper to one because if they other hears any mention of a sugary treat or iPad time they come running from the other room and demand that they be given it as well. I haven’t gone all King Solomon yet, mostly because iPads are expensive and I don’t even know how I would physically cut one in half.
Going out in public is a necessity to survive life as a stay-at-home-mom but it is also the bane of my existence. The tradeoff to venturing outside for a change of scenery, whether it be the park, library, or grocery store, is a task that requires my utmost strength and preparation to survive.
Yes in year two, the diaper bag is a little lighter. You roll with some goldfish, a pack of wipes, and an extra diaper. There are less nap and feeding schedules to work around. It’s easier in that sense. Yet, my kids are maniacs. As are most kids their age. To keep them satisfied in a grocery cart for a 20-minute food run requires me to open no less than three items, all of which have bazillions gram of sugar in them. More than likely, Olivia wiggles free of the restraint and stands straight up in the seat while the checkout cashier begins scanning items a touch faster as I shoot her a panicked look while desperately shoving my credit card into the chip reader. Oh how I long for the days when she would actually sleep during errands.
Speaking of sleep…while Olivia is now officially sleeping through the night – FINALLY – I wouldn’t say that as a family we are exactly sleeping through the night. I can maybe count on one hand the number of nights in the past six months where I’ve slept uninterrupted from 10-6. Someone always needs a trip to the bathroom, tucked back in, another pacifier, a diaper change, you name it. As a result, 45% of my body is now made up of Dunkin Donuts coffee.
And naps. What the heck are those? In the first year both kids were napping. Between the two of them, I was getting close to 5 hours of naps per day – with maybe an hour of that overlapping. This past year, AJR dropped his nap completely, deciding that he would much prefer to be a cranky jerkface from 3-7pm every day instead. Olivia naps 1x per day and unlike these nap unicorns I’ve heard of that nap a solid three hours straight, I’m lucky to get 1.5 hours out of her. This has resulted in a drastic decrease in time I had to clean the house, prepare dinner, or just sit for a blissful few minutes doing nothing.
I never really sat much before but now that Olivia is running and making her own set of mischief my head is constantly on a swivel. If we’re playing with friends I’m running back and forth between toy scuffles and triaging the latest head wound Olivia inflicted upon a toddler buddy.
As they both grow, they gain a great deal of independence but my responsibility as a parent goes beyond making sure they’re fed, clothed, and semi-well-rested. I’m disciplining two kids, I’m making sure that they’re growing into good human beings, I’m trying to educate them to make up for the lack of a full day school/daycare schedule, and I’m trying to keep them alive when clearly they make daily attempts to the contrary. It is exhausting work. it is most definitely not easier. It’s a whole lot harder in many different ways.
I keep saying to myself “By this time next year, it’ll be much easier!” However, based on the way the last year wrapped up, I think I’m lying to myself in an effort to survive. Everyone needs hope. Telling myself it’ll get easier is my hope and I am clinging to it fiercely. Here’s to life getting easier!