Wednesday, October 3, 2012

it’s easier. and it’s harder.

Since becoming a mom of two, I have found that one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “Is having two kids easier or harder than having one?” I find this a tricky question to answer. In short, my answer is having two kids is easier than having one kid. And it’s harder than having one kid. How is that even possible? I’m not sure.

You see, it’s like this. Having two kids who are less than two years apart in age is crazy. Of course, I’m sure having two kids who are any space in age is crazy – but this is my experience. The only experience I know. My days are jam packed full of diapers, spit up, sippy cups, breast feeding, temper tantrums, Diego, silly songs and messes. My days are also full of cuddles, dance parties, long afternoon naps and sweet, sleepy bedtime snuggles. It’s exhausting and constant. But, even more than that, it’s rewarding and fulfilling. Some days, at the end of the day, when I find myself laying in bed, I feel like the day that just passed is a haze. Sometimes, I’m not even sure what all happened between my feet hitting the floor in the morning and my head hitting the pillow at night. Sometimes, I feel like I’m struggling to keep my head above the water. And those days, those are the ones where I feel like having two kids is harder than having one.

When I stand in this crazy, chaotic place that I am right now, with a two year old and a three month old and I look back on the days when I had “just” a 3 month old, yes, I admit, I sometimes think and probably say … “Wow. Having just one kid was so easy”. Just this morning I went shopping with Gwen while Eva was in preschool and I thought multiple times how easy it is to shop with just an infant. No goldfish crackers flying at the stranger next to me, no arguments about if we should walk or go in the stroller, none of that. Just a quiet baby in an ergo who was happy to be along for the ride. But the thing is this – I would never in my life want to invalidate the feelings of a first time mom by saying those things. I would never want to be the one to say, just you wait because having just one kid is sooo easy.

Because heaven knows that 2ish years ago, if you had looked at me, you’d have known that it wasn’t easy. It was anything but easy for me in the moment – when I was in the trenches. That’s why they say hindsight is 20/20. (I almost wrote hindsight is 50/50. Ha, Mom brain). But foresight is not.

When Eva was just 5 months old, I wrote this post. (I wrote the current post before I went back and re-read that post. Interestingly, in that post, I wrote the exact same line – hindsight is 20/20. Foresight is not.) In that post, I wrote about how my feelings as a first time mom had been invalidated by people who were quick to tell me just how easy I had it. And now that I sit here, in their position, I know that what they were saying was valid. But that doesn’t mean it was right or okay. Because it wasn’t. It was demeaning, invalidating and insensitive. And that is exactly what I would never want to do to another mom.

Time and experience are funny things. You can always look back on time and look back at past experiences to compare them to now but you can’t do it the opposite way. You cannot look ahead and to compare your current experience to something you have yet to experience. You cannot be a brand new mom of one baby and look ahead and know what it will be like to have two babies. Just like I can’t, as a mom of two, look ahead and know what it will be like to have three babies.

Now, I can sit here and look back at the days when I had one baby and realize aspects of it that were easier. Easier than what though? Easier than what I’m experiencing now, but not easier than anything I had experienced then. So I can also recognize that at the time I was experiencing them, they were not easier … because it was the first time I had done anything like it.

My adjustment to two kids has been alright. Not perfect. Not completely stress free. But alright.

My adjustment to two kids has definitely been way easier than my adjustment to one kid. I’ve had these conversations with a few of my friends/family members who are on kid #1. Some of them have said that they feel like they can hardly get anything done with one kid so how can I manage to get dinner on the table with two kids?

The thing is this – before Eva was born, my life was kid free. Before Gwen was born, my life was already kid filled. I had already adjusted to the life style that is dictated by nap schedules, meal times, children’s activities and so on. I was already used to being home by 7 every single evening of the week to get a kid to bed. I was already used to having very limited one on one time with my husband. I was already used to spending many days of the week in the house, without ever going anywhere. I was already used to having to get some kind of food on the table for the sake of my child, even if it was the last thing I wanted to do. I was already used to all of these things.

And that’s why, for me, the adjustment to two kids has been easier than the adjustment to one kid.

When Evalyn was 3 months old and I had “just” one baby to look after, most days I could hardly manage to change my underpants. My teeth went unbrushed, my hair unwashed, the house was usually a mess and getting dinner for my husband was quite often an after thought. Because I was in the throes of sorting out this whole motherhood thing, adjusting to the different dynamics in my marriage, figuring out how to function as a zombie and all in all – attempting to reconcile who this new person looking in the mirror at me was. Figuring out what it meant to be Mom.

By the time Gwen came around, I had assimilated myself into that role already. I am already Mom. I am used to having dirty hair and wearing the same yoga pants for eighteen days straight. My standards for keeping up my house have changed drastically. I’ve learned to embrace and accept the constant chaos and the occasional ahem, never ending dust bunny that collects under the couch.

It wasn’t as earth shattering to add a baby this time because the pace, the flow and the dynamic of this family, of my life, of my identity – all of that already revolves around little people and everything that comes with them.

So yeah, having two kids is harder than having one. And having two kids is easier than having one. I’m not sure if that’s the right answer. But then again, I’m not sure if it’s the right question either.

17 comments:

Jessica said...

I think it's an excellent way to describe parenting two kids! I can only hope to add another bundle of joy eventually so I can add chaos and love into our lives, yet again!

Jackie said...

Love this. I hate when people invalidate me. Right now it IS hard because it is different than what I am used to. And if we have another that will be hard too because having two kids will be different than having one. I like your felling that going from 0 to 1 was harder than going from 1 to 2 though, because I think (hope?) I'll be like that too.

Erika said...

This is perfect. I don't have two (yet) but I look at those perfect, immobile infants in their carriers at dinner and think "man those were the days!" but, when those WERE the days...I was flustered and tired and have no idea what I was doing. Perfectly stated, mama.

Caley said...

Ok so now with welled up eyes, I say thank you, thank you, thank you for never invalidating my feelings as a mom of "just" one baby. I have learned so much from you and am so lucky to call you my friend, and my family.
You were an amazing mom of 1 and are now a brilliant mom of 2. Love you to bits!

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing. I have loved reading about moms of two or more because I feel like it helps me appreciate only having one and the aspects of that that are "easier". Of course it's not easy--this is my first time figuring everything out and it's HARD. Even so, I know that when I have two I'll think I had it easy so I'm trying to enjoy it now. If that makes any sense at all...

Jaclyn_Rose said...

Brilliant! And even as Gwen gets older, if you're like me, you will sometimes think it was so much easier when Gwen just stayed put and you only had Eva to run after. But then again, SOMETIMES, not often but sometimes, Finn can actually "look after" Elle for 5 minutes so I can *gasp* SHOWER!

It's ever changing! I'm terrified about #3, but you know it's probably going to be the easiest of the other two!

Laura said...

I only have one daughter now but I totally get what you mean. The adjustment from no kids to one kid is huge, and once you have that part down, have baby #2 just seems to fit into your already busy schedule! Your girls are adorable!

Kendra said...

I thought one kid was easy, two was WAY harder. Then we added a third to the mix and it was easier again. Good way to say what we all think!

Becky said...

Love this. You are a wise woman!

Bon said...

Fantastic way to describe parenting 2 kids. I always appreciate reading your blogs. Some days having two makes me feel like I'm going to pull my hair out trying to attend to our 3.5 month old while my 22 month old is getting into something or trying to roll over her brother. ;) Through all that I look at my kids and thank God for the opportunity to be their mom and watch them grow. It is definitely easier and harder.

Amber @ Backwards Life said...

Yup...exactly. "Just One" is easier now when I'm down to one of the kids. Regardless which one it is. When it's Alexa it's awesome to run errands or playdates without a bag full of toys and diapers and foods. When it's Emma...it's awesome to be out with my baby alone and enjoying it this time instead of stressing.

"Just One" the first time around was ONLY easy about 4 months before Emma was born and I thought "what the hell did I do????" LOL. Alexa was almost 3 and totally easy to run around with.

I love that you mentioned the hardness of the transition from 0 to 1. And YES to already being used to having almost no "me" time!

I'm so glad you're having a positive experience, even though parenting is hard no matter what...but easier when you have an awesome perspective!

Ashley // Our Little Apartment said...

It's an interesting question: easier or harder. Because, OBVIOUSLY it is harder to take care of more people.

However, maybe it is easier to be a parent to #2 than #1 because you sorta know what the heck you're doing now, you know?

I do wonder if addressing this question is helpful to new moms, moms of one, moms of two, etc.

I was one of those women who was told how easy 'just one' was by my mom and grandma. And I had a relatively easy transition to motherhood (after the first 5 days) and it still...sucked to hear that.

I think it's sort of similar to labor. You start slow and build up. And at first, you think, "Holy hell, how will I EVER get to 10 cm when 4 cm hurts this bad??" but somehow you do. Which is why Pitocin makes labor SO hard to deal with - your contractions just start super painful out of nowhere.

Ashley // Our Little Apartment said...

It's an interesting question: easier or harder. Because, OBVIOUSLY it is harder to take care of more people.

However, maybe it is easier to be a parent to #2 than #1 because you sorta know what the heck you're doing now, you know?

I do wonder if addressing this question is helpful to new moms, moms of one, moms of two, etc.

I was one of those women who was told how easy 'just one' was by my mom and grandma. And I had a relatively easy transition to motherhood (after the first 5 days) and it still...sucked to hear that.

I think it's sort of similar to labor. You start slow and build up. And at first, you think, "Holy hell, how will I EVER get to 10 cm when 4 cm hurts this bad??" but somehow you do. Which is why Pitocin makes labor SO hard to deal with - your contractions just start super painful out of nowhere.

Mateya said...

Odly enough this totally makes sense! I am not worried about the thought of adding another baby to the mix (someday) because it will be "harder", I am worried about adding another baby to the mix (someday) because I seriously cannot imagine loving another one this much. I KNOW everyone says this and everyone's answer is always the same, that you just do it, but right now I absolutely cannot see another baby in our future for a long time!

You make it look easy mama and for that I am grateful! :)

Katie @ Loves of Life said...

I was going to comment a lot...but we've talked about this a lot. So yes. Just...yes.

Holly said...

Hi! It's been a really long time since I checked in on you! New blog, new house, new baby...you are right in the thick of things.
Good post. I have a half-baked theory on the subject, formed at some point after my third (and final) child was born. Each child ads a level of difficulty, but you don't know that before the child is added, so you never get to enjoy the "ease" of one over two, or two over three. Which means it wasn't really easier at the time. And you will only realize it when one child is at school or camp or whatever and you are temporarily living with less than the sum total of your children. You will think, "wow it's really quiet", or "nobody's bickering" or "I didn't realize that those two got along so well without the other one". And you may even occasionally wonder if you should have stopped one child sooner. But of course, you can't go back, and you wouldn't really want to anyway.
Every station of motherhood is in the trenches. It's just that you move from trench to trench! :)

Dallas said...

This is a great post, thank you! We have #2 showing up in a few months and I think back to how different my worries were with #1 (what if I can't get her to stop crying, what does breastfeeding feel like, how do I know if she's sick) than #2 (how will our family dynamic change, will #1 feel put out, will #2 have a completely different personality than #1). I know things will be challenging, but I also know that they will be awesome. It was nice to read your perspective.