Thursday, October 24, 2013

Life with Two, Update.

So two months into this mommy-of-two thing, I wrote a post about what life with two is like.

And of course that post is still super true.

But a lot changes in a year.

Right now I've been a mom of two for 15 months.

And I thought I'd share with you about that.



I know quite a few people who are expecting their second, so I figured this would be relevant.
If you are expecting a second and haven't seen my original post, go there now. If you are scared to have two, maybe only read that one for now. Come back to this one on a brave day, I'm gonna share some of the things that have been hard. But if you are like me -- you will like to have the info given to you ahead of time. I like being prepared instead of surprised. Just make sure you are emotionally good before continuing. And of course know I can only speak for myself inside my family. Every mom and every family is unique.



I feel like you should know a bit about us to put it in context. (If you already know this, sorry for the review. But its the internet, some of you reading this might know nothing about me.)


  • I'm an introvert who is happy to hang around the house a lot under normal circumstances (kids or no kids).
  • I'm new to kids. I was never a "kid person" before having my own.
  • My kids are exactly two years apart. (Both girls.)
  • We moved away from family (6 hours away) half way through my second pregnancy and didn't get to know anyone before having our second. (Read: we don't have anyone to baby sit. At all.)
  • My girls have food allergies. (Read: This stresses me out, and also complicates the idea of finding baby sitters.) 
  • Our current home is 700 sq ft. (Read: If crying is happening, it can be heard loudly in every room.)

Ok. So that's us in a nut shell.

A friend was asking me how I mentally prepared for having two kids before hand. I told her this:

When Jasmine was 9 months old I watched a friend's newborn for about an hour. I remember thinking that if I could have gotten magically pregnant the moment Jasmine was born, this would be our life. The moment this sweet newborn's parents left he began to cry and so did Jasmine. I went blank for a moment, the shock of inability took over. And then suddenly I came-to thinking, "If they cry, they cry, through is the the only way out." I came quickly to the conclusion that I was caring for both of them and the were in good hands regardless of their emotions. Within about 8 minutes I had them both totally satiated. And we were good to go until his parents came back.
But I held fast to that moment as a guide to life with two kids.
I told myself, "That's how its gonna be. You are going to hear a lot of crying. And that's ok."

I expected it to be hard. And kinda....terrible.
But I think that helped me because once I experienced it in real life, it wasn't as hard or terrible as I thought, so even though it was still hard, it seemed easy in comparison to my imagined world. So it felt good.


Life for us went pretty smoothly for months.

I think part of why it went so well with the transition for Jasmine was the fact that I really talked to her a lot about the baby. We always looked at babies. We talked about babies in our day to day (more and more the bigger I got.) And I watched birthing videos with her around (I wasn't sure if this was a good idea, but it was something I needed since I was VBAC scared) but I think it was good for her because she really grasped there as a baby in my belly that would come out. And she totally understood that as soon as she saw Ruby. (I know some kids talk to mommy's bellys and not the baby even after they are born. Jasmine never talked to my belly again. And was in instant love with Ruby.)

And once Ruby was here I tried to stay very patient with everyone. I stayed very in the moment, I took intense care to do that. I tried to make sure I let Jasmine help me with what she could with the baby. (My instincts say "Just let me do it." But I made sure to let her anyway, so she could feel included.) I tried to let her hold the baby any time she asked. (This looked like a festival of pillows and it lasted about 4 seconds most the time. But she held the baby) After about a week or two the novelty wore off for her and I didn't need to let her pat the baby all the time or hold the baby all the time. I also tried to hold Jasmine any time she asked so she didn't feel excluded. I was very often holding both girls. Or sometimes Ruby would sleep nearby and just Jasmine would sit on my lap. But that constant need to be held for Jasmine wore off in time too.
Jasmine totally reverted back to babyhood for a while and I just rolled with it. I baby talked to her when she would say, "I a baby." It made her happy and in 3 minutes she was done. (It happened all the time for a while, but I didn't worry about it.) The only thing I didn't roll with was her trying to use a pacifier again. (She hadn't used one since she was four months old when she gave it up on her own.) I couldn't see letting her start at two. She cried and cried. And I felt really bad, and wondered if I should just let her have it. But in two days she forgot all about it.

Those were the early days.


One day we went to a doctor's appointment and had both girls with us. I don't remember how old Ruby was then, but she couldn't crawl or do much yet. Our doctor remarked having two kids was all good until the younger one learns to play with toys, and then it goes south --- the older is no longer a fan of the younger because they are taking their things.
 For one split second I did the new-mom-thing of thinking, "No, not my kids, they are perfect. That won't happen to us." but then I checked myself (as this was my second time around, I've already been through the ringer learning my kids are not perfect) and I told myself to prepare for that bit of advice he gave.

He was right. Pretty much the moment Ruby started being able to touch Jasmine's toys, Jasmine stopped seeing Ruby as her very own, very loved, baby doll and instead saw her as a threat.
There is no solution for this but to just know its coming and be ready to accept it. 
Every day after that day has consisted of me talking through fights every few minutes.
At first I could only correct Jasmine. But now I'm starting to talk to Ruby about being nice too.
Sometimes I can see the fruit of my efforts. Sometimes it feels useless.
I'd say this is really what wears me down the most.
Some days it just feels like everyone hates me. Some days are just nonstop crying and whining and it's often taken out on me (because I'm stopping it from being taken out on the sibling) (or because I'm the one saying no you can't do that life threatening stunt dive off the couch.)  And I'm just sensitive enough to let it bother me.
(And that staying patient thing I could muster up in the early days is WAY harder to do right now. I'm more tired and they are louder. It's just harder. I try. But I don't always succeed -- I was a lot better at it before.)
I have no idea why I didn't realize this would happen, I was doing that pre-mom thing of imagining life perfect with perfect kids that love every single thing I did, and I love every single thing they do.
Not real life.
They can play together nicely too. But its more fights than straightforward play at this age.

To be fair, I find the mobile-baby stage trying even when it's just one. I have a easy time with non-moving babies. And then when they can do stuff but can't say stuff, I kinda feel like I'm just in survival mode. So it may be less about life with two, and more about doing this stage a second time. Only now I'm doing it while putting out fight-fires. So yeah, still harder.


Ok so the rest I'm gonna kinda split into categories, since  year is a long amount of time to fit in one post.



Staying presentable: 


At first I didn't care about getting dressed or staying in my pajamas. It literally didn't matter because one or all of us were covered in spit up, snot or unmentionables at nearly any moment. So we just kept changing into different comfy clothes.
But once I was feeling more myself, I was wanting to look more myself.
It took me a long time to get a rhythm together for getting dressed.
I think mostly because of their ages, not because of me (which I had assumed was the problem.)

Showers got easier once Jasmine was old enough to relax and entertain herself if I was in a different room. (At first she would cry and cry if I was in the shower.) Once that was the case I take showers during Ruby's first nap. Once I was getting showers it was easy to get dressed.
(If you can arrange a shower time with your co-parent it might go easier, but I couldn't work it out with Blake his work schedule is too flexible and somehow that messed us up because we used the time to stay up late and sleep till the last minute available in the morning.)

Things I've learned about clothes as a new mom:
  • Wearing black pajamas make me feel more like I'm in clothes. They somehow always look like "real stuff" instead of weird stuff. If someone shows up at our door and I'm in a black henley shirt and black sweat pants (which don't have elastic at the bottom -- straight cut ones) I don't feel a bit embarrassed. // Same with wearing an acceptably-covering-and-fitting, still-presentable knit black dress. (I've started wearing dresses I don't love for every day wear as pajamas. And that way I still am wearing clothes if I don't get dressed.)
  • In fact I really like black clothes in general. Yes they show more spit up, food, etc. But I find that just taking a wet wash clothes over the spots is good enough. I like having a bunch of black and neutral clothes because I don't have to think so hard when getting dressed, it all can kinda go together. And we all know black is slimming!
  • Leggings are fantastic! Pair those babies with a cute tunic and you look classy and feel cozy.
  • Maxi skirts are magic for mommas. (See this post.)
  • Dresses are great because its all you need -- its a full on outfit.
  • In this post are my fav skinny jeans, underwear, and bag as a mom
  • And I always love thrift store and clearance shopping -- but seriously, for this stage of motherhood -- so smart -- the clothes I'm wearing right now, aren't gonna last the test of time. They are gonna get stained for sure.
Here are my Hair Helps:
Make up:
I'm a make up girl, always have been, always will be. But in the early days I skipped it entirely. Then I came to the smart realization that even if I didn't have time to do the full routine, I could do one or two quick things like all over powder and mascara. And I'd feel much more awake and like myself. (There are still tons of days where I skip it, but lately I've had more time to do my whole thing -- which admittedly is streamlined down from before motherhood.)




Leaving the house:


Leaving the house is really hard. But its doable. Its getting easier as they get older.
But I just didn't make myself do it much.
I'm happy being at home. So I didn't push us to get out much because it stressed us all out. (Learned by experience.) We only leave when we need to. (At this age we are starting to make some outings just to get out. But its a kind of new thing.)


Grocery Shopping:


I let Blake do it.
He was good enough to volunteer for the job!  So I let him.
Honestly it wasn't easy for me at first. It kinda injured my pride. And it kinda threatened my control of how to spend the grocery money. But it was good for me. I needed to learn humility in how much I'm capable of.
It did have a small learning curve for him. There were some purchases that were crazy. We did spend a bit more when he first started. But just like anything with anyone, you need a bit of time to get it. It wasn't long until it was essentially like I was shopping. 
I would write the list and he would go either after work or on the weekend. Sometimes he would bring Jasmine with. Sometimes he'd just run on his own.

I, of course, did take the girls grocery shopping sometimes. But only rarely and for little somethings.

Now that they are older I do it more. It got easier once Ruby could sit in the cart on her own. But it didn't get much easier then. It got easier for real when Jasmine started to comprehend more as a three year old. Two and a baby is just a lot.


Naps:


At first naps were pretty easy. The "newborn sleeps anywhere, all the time thing" worked great.
Jasmine loved looking at Ruby while she was sleeping and Ruby didn't wake up no matter how loud Jasmine exclaimed over her.
The hard nap was Jasmine's (once Ruby was a little more aware). I would plan for it. I would nurse Ruby, change her and make her as happy as possible and then put her in the swing. Then I'd help Jasmine to sleep. Ruby usually cried. And I usually felt bad. But I just told myself she has everything she needs and she is ok. And she would usually fall asleep while I was in there and then I had free time.

Once Ruby needed set time naps, I needed to nurse her in a different room because she was very distractible. That's where PBS came to my rescue. I would now plan for getting Jasmine happy while I got Ruby to sleep. I would check her diaper, get her a snack, and sick her kid table in view of the TV, explain what I was doing and that she needed to stay out there  and head off to Ruby's room. It worked really good. (Still does.)


Things that helped me in general:


  • Not Pinterest! I ignored the crap out of that kid stuff on there. It made me feel like I was not teaching Jasmine enough, and not scheduled, and not ok. I now only follow boards with happy thoughts for me. (Like home decor and clothes.) No more "1,000 things to do with your toddler on a rainy day" pins in my feed. It wasn't that I didn't have the time, per se, to do pinteresty things --- I didn't have the emotional capacity to do it. I needed to save my energy for survival things and just staying patient and kind. I'm really stretched thin emotionally right now. I'm just making it work, and trying to start projects with Jasmine, knowing I'd need to nurse a baby or change a baby or sleep a baby before we really got anything done was too much for me. I don't think she really suffered much for this. (Reading Bringing up Bebe, really gave me peace of mind in letting kids play to learn on their own.) And once she got to about 2 and 1/2-ish I could leave her with simple stuff to do at the table -- right now she LOVES play dough and is quite responsible with it.
  • TV. I didn't want to let it baby sit my kids. But...we watch a lot of it.  Its the only thing I have in the situation I am in. And I've come to terms with that. We watch mainly PBS and a pinch of Disney and cute things. But you know what? Jasmine can spell, and count, and add, and tons of things I would have never known to teach her without it.  PBS is super super good at what they do -- teach young kids stuff. And I actually have zero skill, or at least zero training, in teaching young kids this stuff -- so I could have mommy guilt over using TV. But I choose not to.
  • I tried to be very purposeful during nap times to choose to do whatever I actually NEEDED that day. Somedays I wanted to clean because it made me feel good. (But never because I "should" -- because I always "should" and if I caved to that, then I'd lose my mind.) Some days I wanted to watch a not-kid-show on Netflix. But other days I needed to just sit with the lights off and nice music on to calm my nerves. Some days working out was the endorphin rush I needed  (but I tried not to let it be a guilt ridden thing, just a do-if-it-was-what-I-needed thing.) And of course during nap time -- I always needed to eat! Nursing! Sheesh! I tried not to use browse internet then because usually that drained me. I tried to use nap time for something I couldn't do with the girls around that I needed to do to recharge myself. Lately that has been sleeping!
  • Knowing that I just can't do much now and that's ok. Its just a stage and it's gonna have pay offs later.

Stuff that's been hard:


  • At first Ruby was a good sleeper, but after she learned to pull up she hasn't been. Our house is small so they wake each other up. I don't get to sleep much. But Jasmine is starting to be old enough that if I get REALLY tired I can let her play/ watch TV and I can nap while Ruby does, even if its not Jasmine's rest time.
  • We don't have a babysitter so I'm starting to wear out. 2 years is a LONG time to be babysitter less. I should have fixed this sooner but seriously with everything we had going on this is just the way it was gonna go down. But we are gonna move soon, and I am gonna find someone there for sure -- I need it.
  • As an introvert I struggle to find decompression-alone-time. I hope to find someone to play with the girls a while a few times a week while I'm just off in another room, once we move so I can refresh alone for a bit.
  • That "witching hour" before Blake gets home can almost kill me some days. But I hear they grow out of that eventually. Here's hoping its soon! (I doubt it.)
  • I have a hard time wanting to just "accomplish" something. To sew or paint or whatever. I don't get much time for it. But I sure as heck try. If I get something done I feel happy. (This is where a playmate for the girls will come in handy.)
  • I really hate how insanely messy the house gets, and how quickly that happens! So often times it leads to me not trying because it just feels defeating, and then it gets horrifying. And that's more defeating. I just keep saying some day they won't get all their food on the floor and they will be able to do real chores.
  • Sometimes I get jealous of first time moms because they get to stay in that more ethereal place that I didn't even enter with baby #2. They get that fresh look at life, with the rose colored glasses. I kinda have a more jaded view right now -- but its actually much more accurate -- of "oh I can see how your little personality is gonna be a challenge for me" even right off the bat.
  • Sometimes I get jealous of moms who's kids are spaced further apart because now I can see how much easier it is to get a three year old to do stuff than a two year old. But it doesn't matter because I love my girls and can't change their ages. And I LOVE that they get the chance to be so close. (Plus three has its far share of crazy anyway. Two kids is two kids no matter how you slice it.)
  • To be fair sometimes I think maybe its nicer to have kids even closer together because, though it may be even harder, at least the baby days are less drawn out. (But I had my girls as close together as my body would agree to. So....I'm totally wasting time comparing other people's lives to my own.)
  • Doing much of anything outside the house with the girls is hard for me. They are each at stages and have personalities such that they kinda need one on one help  -- like at the park, so I just don't really do it much. I don't have anyone to go with me. (Its not too helpful if its another mom of kids our ages.) But once again, they are just starting to get to an age where I can do it more. (But now its cold!)
  • Not getting emotionally defeated a lot. But some of that is based on stuff that is just our lives like food allergies. That really does change a lot. You can't "just go" to many social events  -- because usually social events are centered around food. So I have to try and plan around that.  (Not just naps and bedtimes.) You have to worry about a lot more.

Stuff that's been awesome:

  • Seeing Jasmine fall in love, so hard, so big right off the bat.
  • Hearing the girls laugh together. Anytime that happens I could just float away on a happy cloud. I especially love it when they get going in the car.
  • Having Jasmine learn to tell Ruby good night every night.
  • Watching them each have real, genuine, concern for the other.
  • Watching them start playing together. I was just bowled over watching them try and play chase when Ruby could only crawl, but they both LOVED it!
  • Having Jasmine ask if Ruby can come with her in her Sunday School class. (They aren't in the same age rooms. But its so sweet she wants to stay together.)
  • Watching Ruby learn SO SO SO much more at this age than Jasmine did -- all from Jasmine.
  • Seeing them both want to play dress up together!
  • Learning I am stronger than I feel. Feelings aren't really real.
  • Getting humbled -- its not fun, but it's so good for me. Having two has really changed my mind about tons of things I had made up my mind {wrongly} about. And its taken away the parts of me that would judge the way other mom's do things, because I've had to do things differently which each girl. And even though I feel more strung out more often, strangely I'm way more relaxed on a lot of things I never was with one.
  • I also think Blake and I are more united as parents now, more of a team. And I love that.

So that's life with two. 15 months in.

Its unique to us.
Many of it might not apply to you.
But I thought I'd share for whatever insight it may give you.

By the way, don't let the serenity fool you -- this lasted 5 mins!


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