When World’s Greatest Dad and I were dating (back then he was simply known as World’s Greatest Boyfriend), we discussed having children and both agreed that two seemed to be a perfect number. We both grew up with siblings and felt it was important for any child of ours to grow up with one too.
First came love, then came marriage, then came Cat in the baby carriage. We were thrilled to death with this beautiful, happy and absolutely enchanting creature. We had achieved perfection, we proudly thought. How could another child come close to being loved as much as this one? Still, we knew in our hearts that we wanted another child. We had an even bigger reason now. We loved Cat SO much that the thought of her growing up without a full blood relative should something terrible happen to me or WGD was too much to bear. On a lighter note, we wanted her to have someone to play with, someone to (yes) squabble with so that she could learn to resolve conflict in a safe environment, and someone to commiserate with in the teenage years about what geeks her parents are (not that we are, of course).
Still. I worried. I worried about having enough love to go around, how Cat would react, how I’d keep my sanity intact dealing with two kids. Life, though I was a working mom, was relatively manageable and enjoyable with just one child. How would life change? I figured we had might as well just go for it- life’s a ride!
Anyway. As soon as we had decided to go forth with Baby #2, we conceived. What an eager little baby! Em arrived on a hot summer day when Cat was exactly 2.5 years old. Though the first month was a bit of a blur, mainly due to my epidural headache, soon I was settling into my life as a mom of two under three.
How would I describe it? In a nutshell….BUSY. With my first maternity leave, I cuddled with baby Cat in bed while watching daytime TV, puttered around while she napped (she actually got the nickname Cat because she reminded me of a purring, cuddly kitty sleeping on my chest) and ventured out in public with her only once she was old enough to receive her first few rounds of immunizations and the weather was nice and warm. I was never rushed, never had to be anywhere and my life basically revolved around the whims of this cute little girl.
Well. Now my life revolved around the needs of TWO cute little girls. Em was high-ish needs (purple crying anyone?) for the first two months. Cat was pretty accepting of her role as big sister as far as jealously went (thankfully, it was very minimal), but she still needed her mama to be her best playmate. Which meant that when I got the baby to nap, I wasn’t able to take a hot shower…tidy up….or you know, PEE by myself without hearing a little voice pipe up “Mama, want to play hide and seek?”
No rest for the weary when you have multiple children! Somehow, I dug deep, and continue to dig deep every day, to find a source of strength I never knew I had. The ability to muster up cheer when I just really want to laze around watching TV. ‘Cause you know, if I ever do sit down for too long, I can’t get back up. And if the worlds collide and their naps overlap by 30 minutes, I cannot close my eyes…if I do, I fear they won’t open again till several hours later!
I’ve come up with a few tricks to keep me going. Cat is in daycare 2 days a week, which gives her a chance to see her friends and learn new things in a group setting. It also gives me crucial one on one time with Em. I’ve let my standards of cleaning slide a bit. But my house is spot cleaned daily, the children are always fed, bathed and taken care of, and there is always food on the table. I’ve had to make a real effort to take care of myself, as I need to be fit to take care of my kids. My 3x a week gym sessions (on weekends and one evening a week) are what keep me going some weeks!
So yeah, it is much different the second time around. But what I have given up in terms of sleep and personal time I have traded for the absolute joy of watching my two daughters interact with each other, dance parties with my oldest at 7:30 a.m. on Monday mornings, and the chance to be at home and make a happy home for my family.
Am I mentally and physically exhausted most days? I can’t even. But I am also emotionally the happiest I have ever been.