Let me make a confession: since becoming a mother of two, the idea of being left alone with my two children is incredibly petrifying. Both have such intense needs of such different scopes. The four year old wants to play, build, and explore. The baby wants to nurse, snuggle, and be held. And what about me? When do I eat, pee or get back to an email? Somehow the idea of managing these two very different realities simultaneously has resulted in a confidence shutdown and ultimately the belief that I need pretty consistent support to do the juggle of two. This puts an inordinate amount of pressure on my busy husband and an over-reliance on childcare. But worst of all, by far, is my own overwhelming sense of powerlessness when it comes to the care of my kids.
This lack of confidence in handling my two children was bleeding into other areas of my life, like how I manage a business relationship or speak for myself in a moment of tension with a family member. Confidence is confidence, and if it’s lacking in one area it’s likely an issue somewhere else.
It was time to change the dynamic. My husband brought us to our upstate home on a Saturday morning and headed back to the city for the work week on Sunday night. A friend took my son to the park one morning, and another friend helped pack up the car before we headed back to the city. But otherwise, I purposely refused childcare from Sunday night through Thursday afternoon. I was on mom duty and I was embracing it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
There were numerous meltdowns (my sons), some tears (mine and my baby’s), and lots of laughter and snuggles when we all woke up together in the early morning. Since I often got the “worst” of my son’s behavior, I utilized our time to step up my voice and get the respect I deserve. I also refined my multitasking skills (dinner prep while baby naps and child does an art project) and gave myself permission to utilize the tools I have. After all, one hour of TV so that I can properly put the baby to bed at night will not kill my son and in fact and will in fact reward him with a more focused mom during his bedtime! Letting up on all my “rules” on things like screen time and treats can help me get it all done in a peaceful manner -- as long as nothing is abused and mom has the upper hand, I’m where I need to be.
By the time Thursday morning arrived, it was time to head back to the city, and I had never driven a long drive with the two kids. The fun began when my four year old began demanding a piece of gum…I reluctantly handed him a piece when it fell to the floor. He began to wail. A few threats later (I will drop you off on the side of the highway), everyone calmed down. But not long after, the little one started to sob! I thought, for sure she was just tired and needed to settle down and fall asleep -- and so, I kept driving. At the final stop before crossing the George Washington Bridge, I finally decided the crying had gone on long enough. My little girl was not only covered in massive amounts of snot but had a diaper full of poop. We ultimately made it sanely back to the city and since I had intelligently arranged child care to meet me back at our apartment, I promptly booked myself a massage -- and boy, did I need it!
But even after all of that, the days in the country, just the 3 of us, were beautiful. I loved playing outside with both of them, watching the two of them laugh at one another, and listening to the forest of birds on our porch first thing in the morning. In my heart, I know these are the moments I will treasure forever.
I can’t tell you how proud, how confident, how badass I felt. Knowing that I could handle my two kids solo and not just handle it, but enjoy it? Clearly this was a place I needed to reach,and I’m so glad that I faced it head on.
What’s challenging you right now? What beliefs do you hold in one part of your life that may be limiting you in another? Can you slow things down a bit to face a fear and begin to realize that you are more capable than you believe?
Photography by Nafisa Skeie Photography.