The beauty and the challenges are abundant.
Let us compare two mornings that happened the same week when Matt was at work. One morning went beautifully. Everett was head over heels in love with Cambria and wanted to love on her and entertain her and play with her. “Mama, Cambria go in my bed with me right now?” he asked, before either of them had changed out of their pajamas. “Okay, buddy, but you have to be very careful and gentle,” I replied. I put him in his bed first, and then placed her in there, watching closely to see what would happen, ready to intervene at any moment, depending on his current mood. They stayed in his bed together for close to an hour, and he cuddled her, read her books, sang her songs, and it was one of the best hours of my life. It was simple, yet deeply beautiful. I knew that, as a mama, I would feel an automatic, inexplicable, unconditional love for our new baby, but I was dubious that Everett would feel the same, and yet, he has an amazing love for Cambria, and it makes my heart want to melt and explode, all at the same time.
|Here are some photos of the moments I captured on my phone camera.|
And then there was the other morning that I mentioned. We were getting ready to head out the door, and I told Everett that he could play in his room for a few minutes while I changed Cambria’s diaper and put her in the car seat. That took about three minutes, and then I went to find him, and he was hiding in the bathroom. Never a good sign. “What are you doing, buddy?” I asked. He told me he had put toilet paper in the potty and looked guilty. It was just a little bit, so I said it was fine and asked if he was ready to go. He ran to the front door, and I went into his room to turn off his light, only to find the real reason he had the look of shame on his face and was in hiding. On the floor of his room was a poopy diaper that he had somehow taken out of his diaper genie, and the dog was eating it. I quickly grabbed Everett and washed him up and changed his clothes, and then went to tend to the poop situation, during which time Cambria began crying in her car seat, so that was a nice soundtrack to our already stressful situation. When we finally made our way out to the car, I put Cambria in and then went to put Everett in, only to find he had stepped in dog poop that someone had left by the street. Needless to say, the morning was a literal shit show that resulted in Cambria crying, Everett crying, and me crying.
Being a mother of two is definitely harder than I anticipated, but it’s also more beautiful, too.
I am left to wonder, about 100 times a day, how can motherhood be so beautiful, magical, life giving, and yet simultaneously be so exhausting, emotional, and frustrating? How can motherhood bring me to happy tears one moment and the next tears of frustration? How can I feel like I am a rockstar one day and a complete failure the next? It is all so chaotic and confusing.
We definitely went through a honeymoon period of having two kids while Matt was on paternity leave. It was honestly easier than I had anticipated and I didn’t feel as overwhelmed as I expected to. Cambria was a champ at breastfeeding, which was the complete opposite of Everett. Breastfeeding Everett was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and so I was prepared to go into battle breastfeeding Cambria, and she did great. She likes to feed a lot and often, but there were no real obstacles in our breastfeeding journey (except one occurrence of mastitis). I was so much less hormonal after giving birth to Cambria than I was with Everett (I cried every day after having Everett for the first week, and this time, no major tears!). Matt and I took turns holding Cambria. I spent most of the day nursing, but he changed the diapers. We actually had adult conversations and spent time together. And Everett loved his sister, and kissed her and hugged her and sang her songs, and it was beautiful. We were exhausted, but with two stay at home parents, it was all doable. We lived in a happy little family cocoon.
Then, Matt went back to work, and life has been a bit chaotic ever since, yet still really beautiful. I have spent a lot of time these past 8 weeks sitting on the couch nursing and then holding a sleeping baby. Cambria doesn’t like to be put down, which means that a lot of things don’t get done. She likes to be in the carrier sometimes, which means sometimes house cleaning does get done and I can manage grocery shopping. Our days are simple, yet full, and I find myself feeling lonely now that eight weeks have passed. I am ready to reenter the world and connect with people and have play dates. Everett has been such a great big brother most of the time, which really just adds to the beauty of having a baby in the house. But, he has had his own sleep regression since the end of my pregnancy, and so on the nights where we are all up for hours, everything seems so impossible. The highs are high and the lows are low (and most of the time, the lows are all about how much sleep we are not getting). I was talking with a friend the other day and we were lamenting about how hard parenting is, because sometimes it just feels good to get that out and hear other people say it, too. We were talking about how we have both accomplished hard things, but nothing compares to parenting. I think one of the things that makes it hardest for me is that there is no break. You are a parent 24/7, without a break, even throughout the night.
It’s important to me to make sure our family life is full of joy, quality time, memories, and traditions. That still means that most of our life is full of chaos with a toddler and a newborn, but I hope that they feel and know that right in there with the chaos is a lot of love.