Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mother of Two

When people ask me what it's like being a mother of 2, I usually respond like this... "One baby rocks your world. Two implodes your universe." In many ways, it's exactly as hard as I thought it would be. In other ways, it's easier. Some days are awesome, everyone is happy, boys are taking naps, I get to rest, dinner gets made, I get to play with John, we get outside, etc. Other days... Grant cries all day, John is unhappy throwing things around the house, throwing things at me, there is no chance dinner is getting made, dishes are piling up, I have been spit up on for the thousandth time, I'm pulling my hair out, tears are coming and when Cameron walks in the door they spill over as I say, "I can't do this."

When it was just John, I could not imagine having another child because I couldn't see how I could possibly love another child they way I loved and adored John. I didn't think I could give the attention I wanted to give to each child. But I knew there were more children to come in this family. Throughout my pregnancy, I was in emotional turmoil over how I would care for a baby while still showering John with the attention I was so used to giving him and enjoyed giving him. I knew it wouldn't happen. I knew our one on one days would come to a swift close and there would be some difficulty adjusting to the new arrangements. Unlike John's pregnancy, Grant didn't get much attention in the womb. Mostly our communication consisted of kicks and pokes- he kicked me and I poked him back. Second children are treated differently... and it starts in the womb.

Luckily, I had Cameron's mom here and then my mom here taking up the first month of Grant's life and our transition into a family of 4. It was nice having an extra person around for damage control and allowing me to spend time alone with John, which really makes all the difference in how he acts. My mom has been gone for more than a week. In that week, there was only one or maybe two days that I felt went well and seamlessly. Those aren't very good odds, but I imagine they will get better with time.

I miss John. I miss the way things used to be. I wasn't really emotionally prepared for how he would treat me after Grant's birth. I was prepared for how he might react to Grant or me holding Grant, but I wasn't prepared for my fall from the pedestal. The boy who used to adore me and run to me and hug me no longer wanted to be with me all the time, threw things at me for no reason and acted out when I couldn't give him the attention he wanted right when he wanted it. The cheerful look in his eyes turned to something entirely different, a look I want to forget. I admit I have cried over this many times in the past month. John is my first, and he will always have that special place. He will always be the only child who got me all to himself for 2 whole years, and he will always be the one who has been with me the longest. It breaks my heart when he doesn't want to hug me or be with me. It breaks my heart when he wants me to hold him and I can't because I am feeding Grant or trying to get Grant to stop crying. This is the part of being a mother of 2 that makes it the hardest thing I have ever done... emotionally.

On the flip side, Grant is often left to cry in the other room longer than I would normally like because I am attending to John. He doesn't get the attention I would give him if there were no other children around, and that makes me sad. When we do have one on one time at the end of the day after John is in bed, I am usually too tired to make the most of it, and that makes me sad too.

Last night was one of those nights that I feared would be the norm... luckily it's not. But there were a lot of tears. Grant was crying of an on for a couple of hours. I couldn't spend any time with John alone. He didn't take a nap and was cranky all afternoon. All I wanted to do was read John some stories and hold him before bedtime, but Grant's crying prevented me from doing even that. By the time Cameron got home, I was a mess. I had been crying, Grant was still crying and then John woke up at 10. I went to get him and he didn't want me to hold him but wanted Cameron instead. There was more crying. I had a headache when I went to bed. I felt like a failure as a mother because I couldn't give either of my children the love and attention I wanted to give them or I felt they deserved. I went to bed with a heavy heart despite my wonderful husband's praise and encouragement.

However, all is well today. John woke up happy and wanted to be with me. Grant has been happy most of the morning. And all is right and good in the world. I am constantly reminding myself that John will not remember how hard this time was and will most likely not be emotionally damaged by it either. People have siblings every day. My husband has eight siblings, and they are all happy and emotionally healthy individuals. Not to mention, they all love each other. So I know this time right now is hard, but in the end no one will really remember how hard. I might a little, but the greatness of what is to come will outweigh the difficulty. And now I know a little more about how our Heavenly Father must feel toward all his children... especially when we choose to seek comfort from someone/something other than him. Motherhood is a joy and a blessing, and I am constantly thanking my Heavenly Father for this privilege even if it is difficult. I love my boys. And I am happy.


Mercedes said...

i think this might be my favorite thing you've posted on your blog. you always write well, but there is something so incredibly touching about this piece. it is so honest and so real. i love how you acknowledge the challenges inherent in being the mother of two, but also your gratitude for the privilege of being a mother. motherhood is complicated and you've been able to express that in such a profound and personal way.

needless to say i think you should submit this to some kind of parenting magazine....and i am not even kidding.

much love,


Kristyn said...

I felt like I was reading about my early days as a mother of two, just with boys substituted for girls! There were so many days that I couldn't imagine it turning out well or the girls being close. Now, only 4 years later, they are incredibly close and there is rarely a fight for attention. Sure, they still need it, but the times where their needs clash are so rare! Hang in there!

The Hepworths said...

Nikki you just summed up the last 2 months of my life. Especially the missing John part. I've felt the same about my Grant. But every week it gets a little better and Grant loves the baby a little more, and our everyday is little more normal. I'm excited for your family of four.

Tristen said...

Hang in there! I loved this post, that is EXACTLY how it was for me also going from one to two. It was so hard emotionally,but it does get better. I'm not sure exactly what changes-- our expectations? The kids expectations? The realization that everyone is just fine even though they are crying and a bit uncomfortable? Maybe I've gotten larger than life and can somehow cover the needs of most of my children? Maybe I've had to detach a little bit from the kids emotionally and have gone into more of a "mom role"? Probably a big mix of things. Also the kids get bigger and they start to fill each others needs-- right now you've got two incredibly needy (and noisy) human beings needing 100% from you which is just impossible. But soon (sooner than you think) they will start to fill each others needs, they will grow accustomed to waiting a little bit (not bad for them) and being patient, and somehow suddenly you stop crying one day and realize that life is good again. Bad days excepted of course. But I loved this post--well written (of course!). Thanks for sharing!

Emily said...

Thanks for sharing this, Nikki. It's something I say often- how can I ever have another baby when all of my love and attention belongs to Adelaide? I appreciated reading your perspective. Luckily I've got some time before it will be a problem I have to face!