I was once a tired new mama with a new baby in my arms. Raw, weary, but new. New to motherhood. New to parenting. New to worry and responsibility. I still had yet to learn that all the parenting books didn’t have the answers. That all the methods for sleep training, discipline, and eating weren’t custom made for my child.

Fast forward several years. I have a toddler. I think I have all the answers. Okay, maybe not all, but at least some. I’ve survived pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, teething, crawling, walking and plenty of tantrums and a lot of sleepless nights.

I feel prepared for our second baby. It will be hard, but at least I know what to expect this time. The tiredness, pain, discomfort and initial loss of self I can prepare for. Or at least they won’t take me by surprise like the last time.

I am not a new mother this time but this baby is new. This baby is not like his older brother.

This time I find I’m not losing the woman I was before becoming a mother. This time I’m feeling the loss of the mother I was before. The mother I was the first time.

The mother who could do everything, every day, at the same time. Breakfast, playtime, nap time, dinner time, bedtime.

The mother who didn’t already have her hands full when someone needed something.

The mother who had way more patience.

She’s been replaced by someone new. A mother who hears two children crying and in a split second is trying to figure out how to meet two needs at once.

A mother who tries to remember who was last changed, bathed or fed and when.

A mother who is outnumbered. This mother has been outnumbered for 12 months and is just starting to realize she can’t be the same mother she was before.

I can’t.

Because though I am not new to motherhood, being needed by more than one person is new. Needing to care for two little people is new. This baby boy who might look similar to his older brother but is completely different might not be my first baby, but he is still a new baby to me.

I’ve slowly started to realize I can’t be the same mother I was before because every child changes you, challenges you and grows you in a new way.

I can’t be the same mom to every child—but I don’t need to be. All I need to do is just be their mom.

Now that I’m a tired mama with a baby on her hip and a toddler by her side I’m learning you can never say no too many times. No to extra stressors, no to unrealistic expectations, no to too many commitments on the family calendar.

But you can never say yes too many times either. Yes to an extra hand at the grocery store or doctors office, yes to a babysitter when someone offers, yes to an empty weekend or evening at home.

As a mother with two children my hands are more full than they have ever been, and so are my days. But as cliché as this is—it’s true. My hands are full but so is my heart.

My heart is full watching my two sons bond each day.

My heart is full seeing their distinguishing personalities emerge.

My heart is full of the different ways they love me and the unique ways I love and care for them both.

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