Two Months, just checking

Okay, so you know I was terrified of having two children. You know I have a super intense first-born, and that I feared for my sanity and his safety if having another baby was as hard as I thought it’d be.

I heard two schools of thought from other parents: “one plus one is twenty”; or “the second is much easier.”

We’ve only been doing this two months, and it will change, but here’s what I’ve found so far: the second has made life in our family much easier.

The obvious part is that I know more this time around, and my bag of tricks is not only full but indexed, cross-referenced, and dog-eared. I know what and why and how…and his particular pat of Butter is delightfully easy to read. He has his own sign language already, and it makes life much easier than my first, squalling, hard to read Peanut did.

But the bigger stuff is easier, too. The shock of having a child is enormous, and I was not prepared for P. I had clothes and car seat and slings, I was not really ready because I had no idea that not one second of my day would be my own for years after having a baby. My mom always said that parenthood means never reading the newspaper all the way through; in our house it meant never getting past the headlines on the front page. I had no idea that having a child meant never thinking a thought all the way to completion, rarely showering, never peeing in peace, and crying of some sort every single day. I didn’t know that having a child led to loss of self and to both love and hate. I didn’t know my day would never again follow my rhythm, but rather someone else’s, which made me feel like I was living on another planet, upside down, with three heartbeats guiding me through the fog.

Well, a second child doesn’t change any of that. Those huge changes don’t get bigger. They’re done. I’m not myself and my day’s not mine; that was already true. I can’t grab my keys and wallet and just GO; that was already true. I don’t have time to read or write; it’s been four years, so what’s another four? I’m up at night; already true. Not much has changed except the number of beautiful, perfect, wonderful, needy, crying creatures in my house.

And I’ll tell ya, since my first is so freaking much, so much more, it seems, than most children, the second is an emotional break. He’s a reason to detach during the big one’s tornadoes, the ones that made me feel like a hostage negotiator. Butter is a sweet little lump of need who gives me the distance to see what Peanut needs versus what he wants. Butter bean creates a triad in which I don’t perpetually put myself second because that’s not possible any more. Instead of being last all the time, now sometimes I’m second, sometimes third, sometimes fourth. But here’s what’s new: sometimes I now come first. Because the new balance allows me to see when that’s possible. Little windows in which I am human again.

I don’t know what I’ll feel next month or next year. And I’m done trying to figure it out. Because having children teaches you there’s almost no point in planning, yet I still tried for four years. Having a second baby is teaching me what I’d miss if I spent all that energy again.

Big thumbs up to having two. I laughed as our friend j from 20 Fingers 20 Toes foretold months ago**, but having this wee lad has made me more mellow and life quite enjoyable—the whole “life not being my own” and whatnot notwithstanding.

** “perhaps the new human is a harbinger of calmness entering your life…” 1/10/2010, j

18 thoughts on “Two Months, just checking

  1. I, too, felt unprepared and overwhelmed at the much anticipated birth of my first son, but felt more at ease with two and three.

    There are still days, like today, waiting for the pediatrician with all three noisy boys, when I feel I could lose my mind. Luckily, those days don’t come often, and when they do, I still get to see three smiling, mischievous faces to brighten my day…

  2. Well said.

    I was terrified that my youngest wouldn’t get from me what I gave to my oldest. I was mostly right. I find myself constantly thinking about treating them both equally, a near impossible quest. I always feel as though littlest is getting ripped off. He wasn’t nursed as long, I went back to work quicker…But then I thought about all the things I did that I didn’t do with biggest. He was in a moby all the time and content, biggest not so much. I co-slept with littlest up untill a month ago, Biggest got the boot at 5 months. I know this is rambling madness of a still sleep deprived mama, but I guess what I wanted to say is that probably no matter how many children you add to the mix, there is always going to be a fear, or a change in the way we do things because we find things that work for us and make our lives easier.

    And now that I have rambled, I will excuse myself and crawl into bed. :)

  3. I find myself oddly attracted to the word “harbinger.” just rolls off the tongue.

    I’m curious about Butter’s sign language.

  4. I felt the same way when Sean came. After Evan I got post partum, and with Sean, I was nearly giddy at times. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I figured things out better and quicker.

    I’m so happy for you. But I hear if you have three, you might as well have half a dozen. You’ve been advised.

  5. A couple of things:

    1) You will never have time for yourself until Butter goes to kindergarten (preferably a full day). When Gavin went to his first day of full day school, I admit, I got a bit teary. When Garrett went, I was relieved to be able to shower and use the facilities by MYSELF. When Megan started, I was the only parent skipping for joy out of the classroom.

    2) Does this mean you may have a third? And will you call it jelly?

  6. Yes! Yes! Two is terrific. I still have a lot of frustration with eldest, but that mainly deals with his special needs that I am no good at fulfilling. Baby is a delight, and he has helped us strike a balance that we heretofore did not have. I am in love with our little family. Glad to hear that you are in love with yours too! Hurray for Butter!!

  7. Two is fab. No question. Just wait until the first time you hear them playing with each other…and you realize that you are no longer Chief Entertainer. That’s a great day.

  8. “perhaps the new human is a harbinger of calmness entering your life…”

    Very very nice. Isn’t it interesting how the order of your children may have given you a complete difference experience/life? I do wonder sometimes what would it be like if my youngest were born first. (Well, it would probably mean I would only have one child…)

  9. Brilliant!! Brilliant absolutely brilliant post. I felt every. single. thing. you mentioned in this post. And you wrote it all so beautifully. Poetically even. This is an essay I would recommend every first time mom to read. Not that it would change anything. Because you still have to go through the loss of self, loss of personal space, loss of mental space, etc. on your own. But to know that it is normal. And to know that it gets easier. You are awesome, Nap!! Big sparkly hearts from me to you.

  10. Maria, it’s the mischievious that wins me over

    Jen, I worried Butter would get less, too. And he does. Except he is over the moon in love with Peanut, who didn’t have another small person to idolize. Pretty good trade-off, methinks.

    Jane, you’d think I would have internalized the impossibility of planning by now, but I hadn’t

    jc, usual stuff…fist in mouth for hungry, rubbing eyes while pouting for tired. Scratches his face for pacifier (as he pulls away, screaming, from milk) and bangs his thighs for “pick me up.” Also flips me off for “I want a bath”…

    faemom, I ain’t that desperate to be on the Momalom list if threes… :)

    j, word.

    Jenn, 1)I hear ya but worry even school’s not enough. 2) ba ha ha hahahahaha. maybe. talk to me after the hormones are gone and Butter’s saying “no.”

    Fie, glad for you, too. Balance is good.

    Ink, you keep promising that. I’ll call when it happens.

    Sadako, surprised the hell outta me. Wishing relief on all the worried pre-mamas out there. But don’t hold me to it. ;-)

    subWOW, Peanut was really good birth control. We didn’t plan on two, given how much work he was/is. He slept through the night at 3.5 years and that’s when we got silly enough to churn some Butter. ;-)

    Organic, I wish sex ed classes had a whole segment on what motherhood *really* is. And that we sue baby-stuff companies for false advertising for making the image so far from reality.

  11. I made the grave and regrettable mistake of going from one to three courtesy of bad judgement and IVF. And it was, I like to say, akin to going from a fender bender to a rollover. Where am I going with this? Oh so I think that when more kids come along you become automatically less focused on the one and in turn this makes you remember yourself? This doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it took having more children for me to get to the fuck-you-i’ll-be-locked-in-the-bathroom if anyone one needs me point. I never did that with one.

  12. As a mom of 2 kids born 22 months apart, I swam through this post with a feeling of “yep yep yep”. I get it!
    Looking forward to following along, and I hope you pop by my spot some day.

  13. I am so pleased I have found this blog and this post…my second is due in 7 weeks but I have been thinking all your thoughts! I look forward to reading more.

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