I wasn't prepared for two. Let me clarify. Clearly, both of our children were very planned. "Us" people can't really do it any other way. What I mean is, I wasn't prepared for the "parent shock" of two.
Before Lucy was born, I worried that I would never be able to love another child with the fierceness and the depth that I love Oliver. I just couldn't imagine how I could possibly love another little creature in the same way. I needn't have worried on that front. When I met Lucy, my heart swelled and overflowed and grew to make room for her. It is as if she's been there with me, with us, all along. What an amazing thing.
But I was never worried that I wouldn't be able to "pull off" two. I'm not particularly naïve. I knew it would be hard, challenging, difficult. But what can prepare you for splitting yourself in half? There it is in a nutshell. The crux of my difficulties.
I thought mothering was challenging before Lucy came along. And it was. Oliver is an extremely bright, inquisitive and high energy child. Did I mention he was high energy? Kid has a LOT of energy. Oomph. Get up and go. Volume. Exhuberance. And so on and so forth. This energy is both one of the things I treasure about him, and well, my own personal cross to bear. But then Lucy came along, and I really had to reevaluate my perception of challenging.
Mostly, I feel like I never have enough time for either child; like I'm always behind on their kid-rent.
For example, Lucy is a terrible night sleeper and an even worse napper. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get her to fall asleep during the day. All of this time (and it is a lot of time) is time her brother ends up watching the television because this is the only and I mean only way to keep him quiet enough for Lucy to even consider the notion of sleep (and people have given me lots of suggestions on other ways to keep him occupied.... let me just assure you, I have tried them all and they have all ended up with him waking his sister just as she has finally, finally, finally freaking nodded off to sleep.) Some days, Oliver's needs get ignored in the hopes of Lucy sleeping. Other days, Lucy's sleep needs get ignored so Oliver can get better me time, or outings and other fun stuff).
That's just one example. I'm flummoxed. Swamped. In over my head. I'm walking a highwire and most days it's feeling pretty wobbly and teeter-y. Everything feels harder. Everything feels amplified. The joy, the frustration, the fatigue, the anger, the need for my own space, the feeling of being scattered, fragmented, split. All of it. And the work? The mess, the laundry, the snacks, diapers, the noses to be wiped - it's always looming, undone.
People often tell me I'm a great mom, which is super nice to hear. But lately, I mostly feel like a colossal disaster -- scattered, fractured, emotional, impatient, spread thin, ineffectual.
Each day is a delicate balance of negotiation and renegotiation. For instance, today I managed to clean the bathroom and do two loads of laundry. The toll for this however, is that I didn't manage to get anyone, including myself, out of pajamas and the rest of the house looks like a train hit it).
I know this will get easier. I know we will find our rhythm, hit our stride. Eventually the kids will engage each other, need a bit less of me. And I knew it would be hard. I guess I thought it would get easier faster.
For now, I try to measure my days in the small moments that feel like successes (instead of what really could be a large list of failures and undones and to-do's).
* A great hug from Oliver
* Lucy's toothless grin
* My kids learning a new skill (Oliver winked at me today, and Lucy just learned how to clap!)
*An outing without a meltdown
*A day without yelling or wanting to cry
* Listening to Oliver tell L. excitedly about his day at dinner time
* Managing to cobble together an edible dinner (by my standards, not Oliver's!)
*A sink full of dishes done out of the way
* A moment to blog about it all
* L. telling me she thinks I'm amazing
* The beauty of Lucy's babbling
* A successful nap (Lucy's not mine, although that would be nice too).
* A spontaneous "I duv you Mama"
These tiny moments are what pulls me back to that amazing feeling of the heart overflowing with love, and making room for two.