Two kiddos, 19 months apart, has been no walk in the park. At least not for this mama. Sure, "it'll be easy", they said, "you've already been through it once", right? Yeah, jokes on us. MAYBE that would be true if they were 100% identical so I wouldn't have to learn new likes/dislikes, cues and routines. I think the people that hand out that advice have either: A) Never been a parent or, B) Are men, in an older generation (than me), that never stayed home with the children when they were young because of work. None the less, nothing I've stated will change the fact that the transition from two to one is hell. Whoops, did I say hell? I meant hard. It's my true belief that if people wrote books on what parenting is truly like and we were all required to read it before having children, no one would do it.
The reason people do is because the love for a child outweighs that hell.
So, since there is no book on this crap, I'm doing ya'll planning on having two, one good, by sharing 5 things I've learned in this transition. The first one is going to be long. The proceeding 4 I'll keep short. Full disclosure, the transition will most likely be different for you, than me.
1. Some nights you are going to have to choose one child over another. I remember vividly, my youngest was but a month old, and my toddler was 20 months. It was bed time for both of them, and they both needed me. My oldest would cry for me when I was in youngest's room, and my youngest would cry if I wasn't holding him. I told my toddler he needed to go lay down and please stop crying because I was putting his little brother to sleep. He wouldn't. His crying escalated the longer I stayed in his little brother's room. Suddenly, I heard a big bang and loud crying. He had been leaning on the gate at his door and it jolted forward, and he went crashing down with it. Suddenly, I was in a predicament I'd never been in before. I had to choose: The crying 1 month old, or crying 20 month old. It felt like I had to pick who I loved more. My mind assessed the situation in a speedy five seconds or less. I put my youngest in his crib, and went to my toddler. You see, my infant was dry, fed, and would be safe in is crib. The physical needs he required at that age had been met. My toddler on the other hand was developing basic skills in compassion, empathy, knowing his mom still loved him just the same and would be there for him in times of distress. In hindsight, I realize that he wasn't used to having to share me. Everything he knew, and just about the only routine he had (bedtime), had all been rocked by this new human we brought home. It was agony for me having to listen to my littlest scream as I comforted my toddler. This was new stomping grounds I was navigating, and it sucked. I'd like to say it gets easier with time but there is only one of me and two of them. The guilt of having to choose is what I had to get over. It is what it is. Every situation is going to be different, I am not a horrible mother for choosing, and I love them both.
2. Parenting doesn't get easier with the second. Sure, the 2second rule when food hits the ground expands to a minute, you know leaps and growth spurts pass in time, and leaving them with a babysitter isn't so daunting. BUT showers alone are hard to squeeze in, the opportunities to catch up on sleep are replaced with the only one-on-one-time you'll get with each child individually, and getting out of the house in between both's naps is near impossible.
3. I had to be super mindful of comparing. Geeze, I was/am horrible at this. There were some days I wanted to put my toddler up for sale because he wasn't as easy going as his brother. BUT duh Bethany, first of all, they are completely different ages. Secondly, my first child (the toddler) has never been easy for me. He will ALWAYS be the one that is teaching me how to better myself as a parent because each new stage of parenting I go through is because he is growing and going through a new stage, too. We are in this together. On the same subject of being mindful of comparing, I also had to realize that milestones will come differently for my second than my first, and that didn't mean he was advanced or delayed in any category.
4. I found out who my friends were. It's crazy how friendships change once you become a parent. With one child, I had time to be a friend, and parent. With two, I don't even have time for myself! Don't take for granted the friends in your life that UNDERSTAND this. The friends that show up at your door with coffee for a breather (thanks, Sue), provide empathy and offer to drop off meal when the whole family is sick, and still talk to you like you're a person, not just a mother. It has become evidently apparent who I can and can't count on.
5. Last but not least, embrace the chaos. If you don't, the chaos will rob you of your joy. Don't set expectations around a to-do list because it'll never get done in one day. Make a "To-do-this-month" list, and keep is to the minimum. Be grateful for messy toys all over because it means your kids were having fun, for dirty dishes because it means their bellies are full, and days spent all day in pajamas because it means you were needed and were able to provide love. When you lose your patience, forgive yourself. When you yell, remember to stop and breathe. Turn those moments into an opportunity to teach about how you could have expressed yourself differently. Remember to laugh. Life is so much easier if you can laugh through it. And lastly, grab yourself some guilt free chocolate.