I know many of us have picky eaters. My 3 year old would be perfectly happy to exist on nothing more than chicken nuggets for the rest of her life. Most days I fight with her, barter with her, do anything I need to do ( Dance monkey dance) to get her to eat something different..but some days….I don’t. I know. I am horrible. My kid’s going to turn into a giant chicken nugget. But the nuggets, or Nuggies as they are affectionately called in my house, are just a symptom of a much larger problem…Second Baby Syndrome.
Ahhh, I feel a weight has been lifted just by simply saying the words aloud.Many, if not all of you, know exactly this syndrome of which I speak. I’m not proud to admit this but it is the truth. With Bella, everything was perfect. What I mean to say is that I did my best to do everything right! She was always dressed adorably, not a hair out of place, all meals were up to food pyramid standards, just the right amount of sleep to play ratio. I read to her, I sang to her, I engaged her, TV time was limited, classes were taken, play dates were made and minds were expanded.I used to turn my nose up to those Moms that I saw in the grocery store, who looked like they had no mirrors in their house and so obviously should not have been parents..as they were yelling at a 3 year old at the top of their lungs because the poor kid wanted granola bars. Then we were blessed with Gabs.
One child is ONE CHILD but two children feels more like ten! I naively thought that having two would be as easy as one. ( What I meant to say as easy as my one was.)What did I know? Suddenly, my days went from doting, anticipating every need, hitting every milestone in stride and ending the day patting myself on the back for a job well done to feeling like I couldn’t can’t keep up. It all became a blur. A fog filled with love and clamor.Noise.Chaos.More love. It enveloped me.I fell into it willingly.But somewhere along the way, I got lost. I lost sight of all my expectations. I think I evolved (or perhaps devolved ) in my parenting skills, however you want to look at it.Somehow I became , what I now know to be, the exhausted, sleep deprived Mom whose husband travels for work all the time and who has not had a shower or shaved her legs for 3 days. And after a testing morning trying to get her older child off to school, she NOW is standing in the middle of the grocery with her 3 year old tantruming over the exact same granola bars that Mommy had to throw away this morning because said child had spat it out all over the new carpet because…it tasted “bad”. All I know is that it was not humanly possible for me to keep up at the pace I had been doing with one child. There had to be a give and take.
It’s a hard moment in motherhood when one has to accept this fact.It feels like defeat but really what it is IS growing pains.It’s you growing into your role of motherhood. I am certain I experienced the 7 stages of grief when letting go of my expectations of motherhood. First there was shock and denial. What? Both kids won’t nap at the same time?I can handle this.I don’t need sleep! 2nd stage, Pain and guilt. I can’t take this any more.Mommy needs some time to decompress too.Please go to sleep. Oh, no don’t cry. It’s OK. Say awake.I’m such a crappy Mommy trying to force my toddler to go to bed, just so I can have some alone time. I suck! 3rd stage, anger and bargaining. GO TO SLEEP!!! Just be quiet and go to sleep. Please go to sleep! If you go to sleep, I will take you to Chuck E. Cheese tomorrow. 4th stage, depression, reflection and loneliness. Crying because you feel overwhelmed. During this time, you finally realize the magnitude of your loss and it depresses you.You can’t be the parent that you had expected to be..because it’s impossible. You may feel isolated, left to reflect alone on your lost expectations and focus on what you thought things could have been.( Cue the montage of you and your pre baby body running in a field of lilies with your perfectly coiffed matching dressed little girls.) You may sense feelings of emptiness, failure or despair.5th stage, the upward turn. You begin to adjust to your new role with new expectations.Life will become calmer and more organized. What that really means is that your house will be dirtier, the meals will be less food pyramid organic and more chicken nuggets for the finicky pallet of the most distinguished toddler connoisseur. Mommy guilt will begin to lift. Stage 6, reconstruction and working through.As you become more functional, your mind starts working again ( mommy brain may have lifted a bit but, let’s be honest, probably not.It’s a slippery slope from pregnancy brain to Mommy brain to full on forget where you put your vajayjay this morning.. sun downers.I’m just saying). You will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by motherhood. For example, the 5 second rule becomes perfectly acceptable.God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt, may be heard around the house.Summer afternoons in the pool may begin to qualify as bath time. And finally, you will reach stage 7, acceptance and hope.You learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. This in no way means instant happiness. There’s no magic pill for motherhood. Once you give in to the reality that parenting two babies is exponentially harder than one, you can adjust your attitude, your expectations and your technique. You can have hope that one day, you will sleep again.Someday…maybe when they are married and sleeping safely in their bed with their husbands. (Sucker, She’s your problem now!)
And so as I sit here, stuffing more random pieces of paper with notes scribbled on them into Gabs’ baby book, I am reminded of the quote ” Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened!”~Seuss Be glad that you cared enough to have the expectations and to impose them on yourself in the first place. Then, go feed that kid some chicken nuggets before they throw a tantrum in the middle of the store:)