Almost two months since the birth of my daughter Indigo, I am finally taking some time to sit and reflect on what it all means to be a mother to two people.
I think I was under the impression that my life would devolve into chaos, much like it did when I had my first child, our son Archer, two years ago.
This time though, despite having an extremely active toddler in the mix, things just feel easier, more seamless.
I suppose a lot of it has to do with the fact that our lives already revolve (to an extent) around the schedule, likes, and dislikes of a young child. It just doesn’t feel like much of a stretch to add another person into the mix, and have her tag along for the ride.
We are already sleep-deprived and battle-scarred in the way that all parents of small children are, so why not make this a party?
I certainly know that these feelings of ease will ebb and flow, much like they did the first time. There will be teething and sleep regressions; tantrums and injuries; lost patience and lost toys. These things are unavoidable and all part of the glorious/difficult nature of parenthood.
Some days I wish time would go on forever, and some days just never seem to end, as I watch the unmoving clock, counting down minutes until bedtime. But overall, I have been pleasantly surprised by the ease of our transition to a family of four—certainly much more palatable than our transition to a family of three, the first month of which I have stricken from my memory in an act of self-preservation.
Aside from my recovery from the birth itself, which was monumentally easier (just as my mom promised!), our lives just seemed to continue on a steady course this time, as opposed to being blown apart by the strongest dynamite.
This addresses one of my biggest fears leading up to the birth of number two (as we often affectionately call her). We had such a wonderful relationship with Archer, such a lovely ‘groove’ if you will, that I was so afraid to disrupt. Surely it couldn’t sustain something as earth-shattering as bringing another person into the world. No matter how much I told myself that it would all be ok, I secretly thought it wouldn’t be, and that our awesome little family unit would be permanently altered, never to return to its former glory.
I can happily report that it has not been the case. My son waffles between glee over his younger sister, complete with over-exuberant kisses, and completely ignoring her and going about his business. Both scenarios work for me.
The biggest blip thus far began at the start of month two of Indigo’s life.
The pediatrician warned that this was often a turning point in the behavior of older siblings, and like clockwork, my son ramped up his defiance, tantrums and frustration right at this time. Archer has always been a pretty by-the-book kid, with both the good and the bad, so I should have known he would be right on target with this milestone as well.
It was difficult and often maddening to watch our formerly easygoing and sweet boy struggle to follow directions, speak kindly, and generally deal with life’s little disappointments. Thankfully we overcame this with a few weeks of consistent and unwavering, yet loving discipline, alongside my ability to tag-team with my husband when one of us is feeling less than patient.
(Can anyone really maintain composure for a full 45 minutes when trying to get a defiant toddler to clean up some blocks so we can go to the damn park already?!)
In our most difficult moments we tried to remember that we had just blown apart his little world in the same way that ours was changed (in ways beautiful and difficult) when he first appeared, and we certainly had some strong feelings that may have come out in inappropriate ways, so he was entitled to the same. And wouldn’t you know it, we all survived and he is back to himself again after a few weeks of challenges.
Being a mother of two isn’t easy, but it is so much better than I imagined.
How often we all can let our worst fears take a hold of us, and prevent us from enjoying what is real and present! When I see a pregnant mother on the verge of expanding her family to include a second child, I want to tell her: hold on, mama. It will be okay.
You’ve got this.
I know we will have more challenges. I won’t pretend that I already have all the answers. But I’m relieved, and grateful to find, for this chapter at least, life is beautiful.