Every mother who has ever lived has looked at another mother and thought to herself, she’s got it all. Look how well she does mothering. She’s got her ish together. I remember looking longingly at my friend Sarah as she would get down on her knees and speak softly to her daughter when she’d done something wrong. For me, anything more than one child is like ten children but for Sarah 2 children were like 2 children and I never understood what I was doing wrong.
Now, before you get your panties in a wad, I KNOW that only children are no piece of cake. I know that you still face all the challenges as mothers with multiple children face. I understand that you are still overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated, like the rest of us. I’ve never once seen any of my friends with only children have time to sit around and eat bonbons. That’s not what I’m implying. I get all of that. I know its true.
When I only had one child, I was fatigued, stressed and had an extreme case of Mommy brain. I had all the same issues that I have now, but I could at least try to focus all of my attention on my one child and sometimes she even took naps so I got stolen moments to myself. I knew that my child was getting my undivided attention. As much as I thought my heart could not grow to accommodate another child, to my amazement it did.
I was so blinded my that new baby smell that I never let myself entertain the thought that anything more than one child is like ten children. I did, however, know that I could not simultaneously maintain my sanity and raise ten children. I come from big families, I’ve seen the collateral damage to the mothers in our family.
But I got cocky and thought to myself, “Hey, if I can handle one child, how hard can two be?” A common rookie mistake of tempting the fates. That is what I thought..until I was slapped in the face with the reality that I had to juggle a newborn and a toddler, multiply my diaper duty drastically, potty train while simultaneously trying to breastfeed, one’s learning to assert her independence and the other one is completely dependent on me, which means chasing one while dragging the other along. I had to try and coordinate nap times, feeding schedules, Little Gym, ballet, Kindermusik, and schedule bath and bedtimes around the same time.
Not going to lie, I spent a lot of my time running on Dunkin…coffee that is and pure, unconditional love. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m really not sure how we made it through those early years but by the grace of God and a whole lot of letting things slide. There is no room for perfection in motherhood. You prioritize healthy babies and marital happiness over cleanliness. Let that sh*t go. Let it go.
To exacerbate the situation, absolutely everything I had to do for the newborn, I had to match or top for the toddler. She was having some regression issues. I had to push a double stroller, carry a car seat while holding, what can only be called, a child leash on my toddler. I had all my balls up in the air and was just waiting for them to come crashing down on top of my head. The fun is still happening. The difference, you see, between 1 and 2+ children is this; with 1 child you have all these duties and standards and you can focus all of your time and energy on that. You will not have a life of your own but your child’s needs will, for the most part, be met.
When you add another child to the mix, you have to divide your time and your attention. Your love will double but the rest will have to be divided. This is compounded by an extreme case of Mommy guilt because you always feel like one of your balls is dropping and you don’t want your child to pay the price. I mean seriously, who wants to be fodder for future therapy sessions?
With each child, we loosen our grip on some of our balls and some of our sanity. Unfortunately, the more balls that are in the air, the easier they are to drop.