This is a guest post from our Mom Friend, Laura Sykes!
As one of your Mom Friends, I’d like to tell a little story about how I became a mom… again.
Before having any kids of my own, I thought I’d want a total of three, but after having our first, my husband and I decided that maybe just two was a better fit for us. Because heading into the unknown territory of having multiple children felt even more daunting to us than becoming parents in the first place. For some reason…?
Like, how do you divide your attention between TWO tiny needy humans? How do you make sure they each get what they need from you? How do you find time for yourself? We spent so much of my oldest’s first year completely focused on her that we couldn’t even IMAGINE what it would be like to have another.
And maybe you’re questioning some of the same things. Maybe you’re trying to make that big decision about whether or not to try for another. Maybe you’ve already decided and just want to see how this joker make the transition. Now I’m not claiming to have all the answers — not by a long shot — but maybe (just maybe) some of the insights I’ve learned along the way can help someone out there!
Nowadays, I’m exhausted. My darling one year old son and energetic three year old daughter completely exhaust me. I go to bed every night utterly exhausted. Not only physically but emotionally too. Let me just say that up front.
And I love my kids dearly, I really do. As a stay-at-home-mom, my entire world revolves around them, but transitioning from one kid to two during a global pandemic? Not my ideal situation. To help set the stage, imagine yourself back in time, all the way back to March 2020…
After an uneventful pregnancy and (relatively) easy birth, we were in and out of the hospital in two days. Day one: induction, birth, lots of follow-ups, and joking about the seriousness of Covid. (Good gracious were we wrong! ) Day two: only one set of visitors is able to make it out to see us, we pack up, and I hear the receptionist telling someone trying to check in that they won’t be allowing any more visitors for the time being.
This was March 13. You all remember that day, right? The most unlucky Friday the 13th I’ve ever witnessed. But we were lucky. I got to have my husband with me for the birth, no mask, and my parents were able to visit us before the world shut down.
So then I stayed with my in-laws for three days to “get my bearings,” so to speak, and re-adjust to that newborn schedule. You know the one. Where you sleep and eat when someone else tells you to and you have no idea what day or time it is because you’re spending all of your energy attending to an adorable, small, yet surprisingly loud screaming bundle of neediness?
Then, the day we’re ready to head home and acclimate everyone else to these new changes (husband/dad had been staying at home with our two year old), we find out that she (my daughter, the older) has the flu.
I panic. I straight up start sobbing while the kids are napping and we’re trying to figure out what to do. I don’t want my tiny, precious newborn baby to get sick, and since the whole world is going into quarantine, what else is there to do but enforce an internal quarantine within our own house?
So that’s what we do. Little man and I move into the nursery while the other two have the run of the house. I only come out to make myself food, and I do it when the rest of the house is quiet. There’s lots of hand sanitizer and 16 Disney movies over the next six days.
So imagine, if you will, being less than a week postpartum and finding yourself (nearly) completely alone for 144 hours. The only person to talk to only cries and poops, though they do (thankfully?) sleep most of the time. It was rough, to say the least.
But eventually, we are able to let our kids actually meet face-to-face, and although my son was asleep and my daughter can’t possibly remember those precious few moments (or really anything before her baby brother came home), I do. It will be immortalized in my memory for the rest of my life.
After that though, if I’m honest, I DON’T really remember much else about the first few months. Mostly I just remember sleeping on his schedule but eating on hers, trying to keep track of the last time anyone had a bath, and whether or not I felt comfortable letting people into our house (and keeping track of who they had come into contact with, etc). I was so worried for the health of my family that I personally didn’t actually leave the house AT ALL until July 2020. And even then, it was for a dentist appointment. I still didn’t leave the safety of our home for any kind of enjoyment until mid-September 2020.
Now, I may have taken things a bit too far, but we survived it. I don’t know if we had it any easier or harder because we weren’t allowed to go anywhere besides the pediatric check-ups every few months, but I do know that we survived.
And I know that’s how a lot of us feel about the year 2020, but it holds true for anyone bringing home a new baby. You don’t know if you’re doing it right or if doing it another way would be “better,” but you are doing it.
When I first asked a friend how she went from having one kid to two, she asked back, “Well, how did you go from zero to one?” You just do it. You figure it out as you go, and you make it work.
You make mistakes, sure, but (hopefully) you learn from them. You try new things, and if they work, you keep doing them. If they don’t, you try something else. You give one child your undivided attention while they’re having a meltdown, and then help the other one reach the toy that’s just a bit too far away. Then you switch. You play a game with one, then go change the other one’s diaper (or help them to the potty, or grab a snack).
And that’s it. There’s no magic answer to make it make sense. There’s no secret formula to guarantee you’re doing the most right thing. (If there were, we wouldn’t have so many parenting resources out there. ) You just do it and go from wherever you land amongst the chaos.
I’d like to say that Yoda had it right when he said, “do or do not, there is no try,” except I believe that there is A LOT of trial and error in raising children. And a lot of questioning yourself.
(Side note, if you have a toddler and you feel like you are constantly in a power struggle with them, I’d recommend checking out @selfsufficientkids, @curiousparenting, @transformingtoddlerhood on Instagram. #notanad)
But I promise you this: you’re doing great. Even on your worst days when you feel like you’re doing everything wrong, as long as you still love your child(ren), everything else will work itself out. You’ll pick back up tomorrow and keep on going.
And we’ll be here rooting for you! We are, after all, your Mom Friends.