Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Twice As Good: Part 2

Being as this was supposed to be a blog post about life with two children, I decided it'd be fitting to do it in two parts. I'm really glad I made that decision because the first part was a little intense. But honestly, it was a really good snapshot of the first three months of my little Samuel's life. Today marks three months exactly since he made his way into this big world of ours and I swear to you people, it's like a magical switch has been flipped for the last week or so. This is not the same baby. Okay, yes, he still would prefer to be held over pretty much anything ever; and alright, he's not afraid to let you know when he's unhappy, but my word. This child is laughing already. He coos and gurgles and squirms with glee. He smiles so big at strangers that it makes virtually everyone who looks at him say, "Woah! He's a happy baby!" which makes me smile inside because liiiiittle do they know...

I'm so excited to get to know who this little one really is underneath all the pain and misery he was in for the first few months. Poor baby.

So. The great, amazing, awesome, wonderful bits of being a mama with two:

1. You LITERALLY have super powers.
Your kids will be the first to really, truly believe in these powers. Gradually, their belief will be enough to convince your husband. And finally one day you will realize it: You are magical. Your cuddles make their cries stop within seconds. (Even faster than daddy's do.)  You can somehow carry three bags, two kids and one car seat even though you only have two hands. You can turn things that are healthy but nasty into meals that taste unhealthy and delicious. Your kisses (apparently) have healing properties. You can have an entire conversation about something deep and meaningful with your husband while both children are hollering in the back seat. You know where everyone's everything is. And you can clean around five rooms in the five minutes that you have until the baby wants to be held again. It's all rather astounding.

2. You have all kinds of new realizations about how astounding your capacity to love is.
The minute you see that new baby's face, all of your fears about not being able to love a second baby as much as you loved your first just melt away. Because dang. You love that baby. And then you wonder how many babies you could love as hard as you love the two you have and you realize you have the potential to never stop loving these little people and it's kind of addicting so you start to understand why people want 10 or 11 of them. Then your kid pukes and you think, "No. Two's good".

3. You get to watch your oldest become a big sibling. 
Which is magical. I can't tell you how much you will feel like your heart is going to explode with happiness when you watch your first kid hold your second kid for the first time. Those feelings come again when your oldest tells the youngest he loves him, or gives him kisses when he's crying, or gets really excited when he wakes up from his nap and tells you to 'get him up, quick!' And again when you watch your new baby's face light up in pure joy when he sees his big brother come in the room. (Disclaimer: This happy part of having two also comes with a side helping of anxiety when you realize that the two-year-old loves the three-month-old SO much that he wants to squish him. So there's a mixed-bag of elation and terror when the two-year-old wants to hold the baby again)

4. You are kind of a baby expert now.
Everything that was overwhelming with your first is suddenly a no-brainer. You don't worry nearly as much about things as you did with the first. You've figured out newborns. Bathing, feeding, changing, dressing, doctors... all of that is logged away in your brain and you can pull any of it back out quicker than you'd ever imagine you could. You feel like you're the baby whisperer. You figure you could probably write a book about mothering by now. It's very empowering. Of course, your second baby will throw a wrench in everything by being a completely different human being who won't take a binky or stop crying for anything ever for what feels like the rest of your life. But the mechanics of it all? Cake.

I'm sure as the years progress and I continue watching my boys grow up together and learn more about who they are, I'll be able to add several numbers to that list. I'm so excited to watch them navigate this world. I love that they get to grow up together. As tricky as it sometimes is with two so close in age, I'm really grateful that they'll have each other as a built-in best friend as they get older. Yes, it can be overwhelming. Sure, you feel stretched to the limit (and sometimes beyond it). And most nights you do collapse into bed feeling like you've been run over by a mack truck and wondering how in the world two such tiny humans can be so completely exhausting. But in all honesty, it's all completely worth it. The ins and outs and ups and downs and goods and bads all mix together into this cohesive, beautiful chaos that you wouldn't trade for all the structure and predictability in the world. Being a mama of two is hard and wonderful. And it will change and grow you in ways you never thought it could.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Twice As Good-Part 1

*Disclaimer: This post is part one of a two-part post about my life as a mother of two. It is possibly the more morose of the posts, but I promise the next part will be more upbeat.*

Funny story: Today while my kids were taking a nap (at the same time - may the napping gods continue to smile upon me) I thought, "Hey. I should blog. It's been a while." So I went to get our laptop only to realize that Shem had taken it to my parent's house in an attempt to study sans distraction.  Curses. Ah well, I thought, the blog will have to wait for another day. About an hour after all that went down, I got a message from my friend Natalie, who suggested I write a blog entry about life with two children; the pros and the cons, the good, the bad and the ugly, etc. Well. Dang. That was quite the coincidence. But alas, the little one was up and crabby (stop the presses, I know.) and wasn't even hinting at maybe possibly being okay with my blogging instead of walking and bouncing him.

Which brings us to the here and now. Every once in a while I make the right decision in regards to my second-born. This was one of those times. I let him cry for about two minutes in his swing because I had a strong feeling that he was fussy because he was tired and -huzzah!- he fell asleep again. My oldest is still asleep. In all that time he never stirred. Because he is a miracle child. And takes three-hour long naps.

And that offers us an excellent segue into why I've hesitated to write a blog about life with two: Aside from the fact that I really have close to no 'down' time, I also feel somewhat unqualified to paint an accurate picture of what life with two kids truly looks like because my sweet, lovely little Samuel is so far from being a textbook baby. It doesn't feel like I'm a mother of two. It feels more like I'm a spit-up drenched, hot mess, 'hey, look, my outfit matches this time', walking-around-like-a-zombie, breathing-and-counting-to-ten-every-ten-seconds-so-I-don't-lose-my-marbles,  inadequate, unequal-to-her-tasks mama who maybe bit off a little more than she could chew with this whole 'hey, let's have more kids' idea she naively proposed to her husband a little less than a year ago.

In my version of life with two, the experience can be summed up in the moments wherein both children are screaming in the back seat of the car on the way to the grocery store. One upset because he's (almost literally) always upset and the other because his shoes are on. Or something sensible like that.

Or during the times when Samuel has just puked all over the outfit I just put him in while his big brother is happily painting the table a lovely shade of green with his avocados. Or dumping all of the water out of his bath onto the bathroom floor.

Or those times when Luke loves Samuel SO much that he squeezes him just a little too tight which makes the (finally) quiet infant start screaming. Again.

Or the times when I'm scouring every on-line article I can find on allergies in babies or 'fore-milk imbalances' or colic in an attempt to find an idea that I haven't explored yet.

Or when I REALLY want some ice cream but I can't because I'm trying everything I can think of to help my little one's tummy to settle.

Or those times when I just cry because I don't have anything else to try and my baby is hurting and I can't make it better and that's just about the worst feeling a mama can have.

We call Samuel our little 'investment'. We're putting in all of this time and energy and work and sacrifice because we know that in the end, he is worth it. In a way I think all children are sort of investments. If they didn't return to us, plus interest, the amount that they suck out during these early years, I don't think anyone would ever voluntarily have children. But they do! Even my grumpy little man does...and will...

I sometimes wistfully remember those days when it was 'just Luke'. Even though it didn't feel easy then, I look back on it an long for the times when we went for days and days without hearing a single newborn have a melt-down. I longingly remember the days when it was only one dirty diaper and one bath time and one fit being thrown in the grocery store. But honestly, I wouldn't trade this moment in my life for anything.

Every day I go to bed feeling like I've been stretched to my absolute limit and then... I wake up and do it all over again. There is nothing more fulfilling than stretching beyond what you think you can handle and then going even further. And then at the end of it all, you look back and realize you've grown in ways you couldn't have possibly imagined. You are super woman. You can do anything. You can conquer the whole world if you need to.

I'm not quite there yet, but I have faith that I will be soon. I know that when this moment comes to an end, I will look back and be amazed at everything I accomplished and how much I grew and changed. And I'm excited for that. I'm undoubtedly in the Refiner's fire right now. He's making me shiny and new and perfect. He's buffing out all of my rough edges by giving me these wonderful babies and allowing me to love them with more power then I've ever loved anything and simultaneously allowing it to be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

What a blessing it is to love the thing(s) that grow you.