It is Mothers Day and this time of year always makes me a little more reflective than usual. When I was first pregnant and had a little being kicking away in my belly I could not really imagine what life would be like when they arrived. When we had said baby…I could not imagine life with two. Around Mothers Day, in 2013 I wrote a blog called ‘Being Mum – 18 Months In’.
It feels like a life-time has passed since then! So I thought it was worth putting my thoughts on life with two down, in case plans for number three become reality (hold your horses, definitely not any time soon) and I look back and how idyllic (??!!) life was.
But I am going to keep this well summarised, time is basically gold now.
Speaking of time, the mere fact that it has taken me over two years – two years and 3 months to be precise, to write this blog basically sums up life with two. I could say ‘the end’ right here.
No seriously, with one child I thought I had no time….but really that was just the training ground. I actually had two-three hours in a day, sometimes more when the child slept ALL TO MYSELF. When Sahan was a newborn I recall having moments of time, to say run the washing outside; with a newborn you can actually put them in one spot and they do not move…but as soon as that tiny human discovered its’ limbs, and I had two on the move, life as I knew it was never the same and I am still trying to find time to have a shower everyday.
I have written a lot of blogs about the fatigue that comes with having two bubs…I think it has been part of my own self-therapy to get through the bone-aching, never-ending chasm of exhaustion. Some nights, especially in the newborn stage with number two, I would almost be afraid to go to sleep because staying awake seemed easier than being dragged from the pit of deep sleep to sudden alertness try to get my body and brain to function enough to work out which of the two, or was it both, were awake? While we seem to be coming out of this fog the years of fatigue from day to day life is still there. Coffee is my best friend and I dare anyone to tell me otherwise.
(P.S If you are in the trenches of sleep deprivation this blog is for you)
It does not double it triples. You have less arms and a decreased ratio of adult to child. When you are flying solo you are literally out numbered. Washing, nappy changes, meals, changing clothes, bath time, stories, meals, dishes, washing, did I say meals? I swear I could spend all day in the kitchen or the laundry and still there would be more to do. The washing I have admitted defeat on and have used a laundry mat to dry our clothes for over a year now. So the washing just rotates from the dry baskets, to on the children, to the floor of the washing room and back again. On a good day I will shove it into boxes that are somewhat sorted into pants and t-shirts. At least with two boys they can wear each others clothes – and they do.
If I am really honest it is the work, the never-endingness of the day to day stuff that has been the hardest for me. This even beats the fatigue though the two often seem hand-in-hand. It is what makes me question my own ability as a mother, and think would I cope with three children? And it is not that I do not love my boys – I do, and would do anything for them….it just means that the work which seems to have no finish line at times is really hard.
But like with practically everything to do with motherhood there have also been some surprises that I did not expect with the arrival of number two.
Speaking personally, though am sure I am not the only one but I am a far more relaxed mum the second time around. I have learnt that it really takes quiet a lot to ‘break’ your child. In fact they will probably break you first. I remember when my first was a tiny newborn, having a shower and putting him in a car seat facing the shower so he could see me…I just about wet my pants laughing at this now – as I will do ANYTHING, plead, bribe, cajole and trick my way into getting two minutes in the shower with the door closed and ON MY OWN.
Maybe it’s because it was so crazy for me having a newborn, a toddler, working and doing a doctoral thesis that I really had no choice but to embrace the crazy chaos of life with two….and now that chaos is just normal. No time or energy makes me really prioritise what is important and not to sweat stuff that I once thought was oh so important. Like the house which is never tidy. It is functional….sometimes barely but functional is functional. The boys rooms décor is far from what I see on Instagram (in fact for our seconds baby’s room there was none) and wearing shoes let alone matching socks or pants for that matter is secondary to getting out the door.
Ah I mean with the children here…I find that pants are essential for pretending to be a functioning adult.
Secretly I really like this learning I have done, it has forced me to become a prioritising queen and just let some things (a lot of things) fall by the way side. Ironically no one actually notices!
Second Babies are Very Adaptable
Maybe it is our Smushie’s personality but he just seemed to fit into the mold of the family from day one – it was like he got trained by default to be compatible by what was going around him. Sleeping in odd places, no problems. Older brother wants your toy, no worries. Being dragged around everywhere again no problem as just being with me is a bonus….and constantly coming second because as a newborn you are oddly less demanding and loud than a toddler? Our second son’s go-with-the-flow personality and ability to just be part of the family dynamic with ease ceases to amaze me, is this the same for third babies?
Ok so I know this is the squishy part but it’s darn true. It is what makes me want to go back for a gazillion more babies. Nothing can prepare you for this – yes you sleep even less and the workload is through the roof but your heart expands exponentially. And it really is all those little moments. Those fractions of time which make you forget all the exhaustion and your own fears as a mother. Like when our eldest son held his brother for the first time, or when they splash in the bath together (why are they so peaceful in the bath?). Oh and when they take each others hands and help each other get changed….one of my most favourites is when I read a story to both of them snuggled up in bed. It’s like somehow in that moment (which you might only get seconds of in a day) everything seems right in the world and I think to myself holy heck we did that. We made these beautiful beings giving them a person, a sibling, for life and I feel like my heart could actually explode with my love for them.
Time for number three then?
Happy Mother’s Day.
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale