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.