By far the question I am most asked these days is, how do you find time for two kids? It's the same question I asked of my friends when I was expecting Arya, totally overwhelmed at the thought of dividing time. I'm only 2 months into my job as mother of two girls, an expert I am not (not yet). However, I think I have some answers, so read up if you are thinking of adding to your family, or already pregnant and feeling totally stressed out about this (like I was).
How do you find time for two?
That my friends, is the short and honest answer. A mother is just one person, one person who can not possibly attend to the every single need and whim of more then one other person at a time. You can not expect to please everyone. Let's face it, if one of the people that requires your attention is a toddler, you aren't going to be able to please them even if they are the only child. If you have yet to experience the wonders of toddlerhood (whining, screaming, stomping, mischief, general mayhem) you will understand what I am saying at some point. Yes, even those of you who think that your child will escape these completely stereotypical traits, just.you.wait.
The best advice I received was this: someone is going to have to cry. That doesn't make you a bad mother, it just means that with multiple children, you learn how to prioritize needs. You will learn to do this quickly and well. At first you may feel guilty for allowing your child to stand idly by as you ignore their cries to focus on a sibling, soon enough you will learn to tune it out. No joke. I'm not talking about cries because we are hurt, or sick, or in literal need. I'm talking "mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, see me mommy, painting mommy". Your 2 month old needs to eat, trumps your 2 year old wanting an ice pop. Your 2 year old fell (again) and bumped her head because she was jumping on the couch even though you have said 1000 times to please stop jumping on the couch, trumps your 2 month old wanting to hear Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. See, you get it already. These decisions will make up the majority of your day. Yes, the baby might be crying in her swing while you throw together a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, but she will survive and her turn will be next. Yes, your toddler might be coloring on the walls while you run out of sight to change a poopy diaper, but this is why you bought Washable crayons*.
I totally call bullshit on those moms of multiples who claim they have time for every child, no one wants for attention. Kate and 8 or whats-her-face with the octuplets or the Duggars, bullshit. It is impossible for just one mother to mother multiple children the same way she did one. Someone wants for attention at some point, and i'm not saying it makes you a bad or less effective parent, i'm just saying let's call a spade a spade.
As for love, it just comes. I wondered about the love aspect of having a second child. Your first born, much like your first romantic love, is met with an all encompassing and overwhelming love that consumes you. You ask yourself "If I love this person so much, how can there possibly be room for another". You will find, like all of the mothers before you, that instead of dividing your love in half, your heart in fact; doubles in size. It is amazing (unlike your first romantic love which possibly hardened your heart to all future romantic endeavors).
The same rules apply for staying sane that you hopefully learned already with your first. That being a mother does not define you as a person, if you let it do so you will possibly begin to feel very lost. Continue to do something that you love, that does not revolve around your children, if need be fight for your right to hold onto yourself. It is by no means a simple task to find time for yourself, after all you now have piles of laundry (in addition to the piles you had before having another baby), mountains of dishes, dust bunnies you have names for because it's easier then trying to get rid of them...but those things will wait for you. Believe me, you can clean everyday all day but those tasks will just come back next week anyway. So, tell your husband that you know how hard it is to watch two children at once but he can learn just like you did. Husbands have the added bonus of only having this task for short periods of time. So, once in awhile you are allowed entitled to leave your children in the capable hands of their father while you get a massage, manicure, a cup of coffee, or at the very least; a shower.
Before I wrap up this know it all type post...let me reiterate that I am not perfect. I have been told countless times that I always seem like I have it together which is great to hear but a false representation of reality. I try to have it all together just like every other mom I know...but come on, I'm just like you. Two weeks ago I walked into the kitchen and found Coraline completely naked, standing in the dog water dish with a huge smile on her face as she proclaimed "Bath Mommy!" And not so long ago, after an extremely long day filled with tantrums, screaming, kicking me, smacking me in the face and every other terrible thing a toddler can do jammed into one 6 hour period...when my daughter completely refused to get into her car seat (you've been there right? when they arch their back and will not get into a seated position? instead they flail and yell and stand on the floor of the car) I snapped and yelled "Coraline just get the fuck in the car!" Am I proud of this? Not at all. Do I feel super lucky that my parrot of a 2 year old did not pick up the f-word? Yes. Am I telling you because I know it has happened to you? Yes. Because we all have our bad days, our breaking points and the points that we just think of getting in the car (alone) and driving until we are far away. It's normal. You are normal, you are a great mother not in spite of these moments, but because of them. It would be worse to pretend to your children that you have no emotions, that you are always totally together and in control, none of us are. I want my children to know that sometimes, we all lose it but when we do, we find a way to pull it back together.