We recently welcomed baby #2 to the family, and he’s been a wonderful addition, but it’s definitely been exhausting and challenging in a whole new way. We have a two-year-old who is rocking big brother status, and as I write this (with one hand while nursing a baby) little brother is two months old. Now that I’m emerging from the utter fog that was newborn-hood, I can share with you a few of my observations as a second time mom.
Think you’re getting pretty good at this mom thing? Expert level even? Thought you were past all the guilt-ridden self-doubt of new motherhood? Lolz. You may have a few great mom tricks up your sleeve, but this is brand new rodeo, and there are plenty of new parenting decisions for you to obsessively question. Welcome to Motherhood 2.0 where there are 1,001 new ways to (feel like you) fail.
I mean, I can calm a crying baby. I can occupy and redirect a rambunctious toddler. But can I do both at once? While balancing a ridiculously heavy car seat and overflowing diaper bag? With an audience of on-lookers? Should we throw in a toddler meltdown just for fun? Yeah… sounds like we might be staying home for most of the foreseeable future.
Speaking of staying home…
2. So. Much. Screen. Time.
We were all about limiting TV time before #2. Now? Well, let’s just say I can quote every episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (hot dog!). In fact, this blog post is brought to you courtesy of the Little Einsteins. We’re starting to come out of the “only stay home and nurse the baby while watching shows” haze, but it felt like we’d never get to a place with a normal non-TV routine again. #1 will definitely require a cartoon detox soon. Maybe after this episode. Or the next one… Or… well, at least no one is crying right now. We’ll see… because…
3. Cry Me a River.
Someone is always crying. Always. Don’t worry — you’ll get your turn now and then too. If no one is crying, be prepared because that just means that pretty soon everyone will be crying at once, which is it’s own special kind of torture. Mom Pro Tip: stock up on aspirin… or ear plugs… maybe both.
4. Laundry for days.
We just added one person, right? He didn’t bring along friends that are hiding in the walls trying on clothes at night and throwing them in the laundry hamper? I mean, how many outfits are these kids wearing each day?! I’m looking at you, Baby McSpitup. I know that I personally have been in the same pair of sweatpants all week, so there really is no explanation for the current disaster zone in my laundry room.
5. Corn Dogs Are a Meal, Right?
With #1 I just had to keep myself reasonably fed, usually with the help of kind friends who brought meals or my sweet husband who could whip up something when he got home. Now I have this other tiny human who demands food at regular intervals even when it’s just us at home. You know all those foods I thought my child would never eat? They live in my freezer now. And I’ve memorized their microwave times. Just call me Betty Crocker.
6. Hygiene? Bye-giene.
Everyone joked about how moms don’t have time for showers with #1, but I actually got one in pretty regularly. This time? No way. One of the two is always awake. Hubby and I play baby trade-off when he’s home, but there’s rarely an “everyone is happy” window to hop in for my blessed spa treatment (er, quick weekly shower). On the bright side, I’m finally using all of those body sprays I got as Christmas gifts.
7. Divide and Conquer (or Where Did My Husband Go?).
Back when we only had one tiny human, one of us would get a break now and then, or we could even (*gasp*) take care of the baby together or (*double gasp*) have a nice chat while the baby slept. Now it’s just one big game of whack-a-mole as we try to take care of whoever has the biggest (or loudest) needs at the moment. That often means splitting up to take care of one at a time and high-fiving as we pass. There’s no one I’d rather high-five, but I’m thankful that we’re starting to settle into more of a family routine and less of a “survive at all costs” routine.
8. Incredible Time Vacuum.
Ah, routine… Life was good for #1 and me. We had a sweet routine going on: we played, we had outings, I even cooked and cleaned sometimes… Now not only is poor #1 still in his jammies at 2 pm, I’ve been bouncing a fussy baby all day, and no magic fairies have come to my house to clean and make dinner. I don’t know where all the time goes in each day, but it’s certainly not going towards my to-do list. We’re getting closer to a functional family routine, but some days you just have to move the piles of laundry out of the way so you have somewhere to sit when the pizza delivery arrives.
9. The Good Ol’ Days.
Honestly? Sometimes I miss the awesome one-on-one time I had with #1. He was my little buddy, and we had so many more adventures when we didn’t have a baby tagging along. And sometimes I miss the sweetness of caring for a new baby without a toddler yelling, “Ice cream! I need it! Now, mama! Let’s go!” in the background. I have such pleasant memories of those precious cuddles and quiet sleeping baby moments with #1 that are only a rare treasure with #2. It’s not regret exactly–we already can’t imagine life without #2–just a sense that things will never be quite the same in a way that is both beautiful and a little bit sad. I’m not sure what to call it, but I bet the French have a word for it.
10. Love Grows More Love.
This is the truth. Every time our family grows, it’s beautiful to watch the love multiply. Adding a second child certainly isn’t easy, but it is such an indescribable blessing all the same. Just when you think your heart is so full of love it can’t possibly hold any more, you get to welcome this new precious one and discover space for love you didn’t even know you had. And to watch big brother ask to give little kisses to baby — nothing sweeter!
I may not have had a full night’s sleep in two months. I may have been heard to yell, “No more crying! Everyone be happy!” to a room full of wailing children. I may smell like baby vomit more often than not. But the really crazy thing is… I love it. I mean, not the exhaustion and weird smells, but I love this beautiful family God has put together.
I love the precious little hands that stroke my cheeks and the bright eyes that blink up at me in wonder at this big, fresh world. I love the sense of potential and possibility swelling in each little heart. I love sharing these crazy adventures together with my sweetheart. I love knowing that wherever we may be and whatever may be going on in life, this little family is built on love. And love always grows more love.