A Day in the Life

26 Mar

This was first published exactly one year ago on my old blog:

Pulled in too many directions

I’m finding it really hard to adjust to life with two children: a newborn and a toddler. In some ways it’s easier than I thought but in other ways it’s more difficult than I ever imagined. I am forever, all day long, pulled in two directions. I feel overwhelmed with how needed I am and frustrated that I’m unable to find a manageable routine.

First off, I am totally aware that:

Single moms do it without the help of a partner

People have twins and triplets and higher multiple births and they manage to make it work

People have more than two kids and manage to make it work all the time

I have an amazingly helpful husband and a mom who offers to help out whenever she can

I’m able-bodied and can do this ‘mom thing’ without, say, a wheel chair, a prosthetic leg, an oxygen tank, a visual impairment (etc)

It’s only been four weeks and it WILL get better.

I know all that.

Another big thing – something that my mom told me – is to be thankful that I get to do ‘all this’ with Jason. She, on the other hand, did it with my father, whose idea of child raising was sitting downstairs drinking and coming upstairs periodically to yell at us to stop making noise.

I don’t have post-partum depression and I don’t wish either one of my children away. I’m just honestly stating that parenting two children is SO difficult.

Like I said, some of it IS easier. Since I healed so well – and I’m also NOT pregnant anymore – it’s easier to get on the floor and play and roll around with my children. I was expecting a horrible healing experience (like last time) and I worried constantly about how I would be able to watch both children while feeling so bad. Since I felt good so soon, that is one worry that flew out the window rather quickly.

The little day-to-day tasks are easy too. All the little things that my baby needs – bottles made, diapers changed, burps, laundry, cuddles, feeding, etc. I remember it all from the first time around and I can do it.

What’s most difficult is constantly being needed by two children as well as various tasks around the house. I’m so scattered and pulled and I feel like a horrible mother because I can’t do everything and help everyone at once.

RJ gets up in the morning and wants a bottle. We’re trying to eliminate the morning bottle but at this point it’s not worth the argument or the tantrum. While RJ drinks his bottle and watches some cartoons, I can change JP, then feed him, then put him down somewhere and start washing and making his daily bottles. As soon as I put him down, he starts to cry (he ALWAYS wants to be held) and then RJ wants to play trains. “Just a minute” and “when mommy is done” and “I have to help your brother” are already well used phrases. RJ is starting to tell me NOT to do things:
“No mommy, don’t burp JP!”
“You’re not going to change his bum!”
“You’re not going to make the bottle.”

But of course I do. I walk away from RJ and do whatever else needs to be done, which is usually feeding since JP eats every hour. As soon as I finish feeding him (he’s a SLOW eater), we have a few minutes to play before the baby is crying for the next feeding.

But depending on what I’ve started, the baby has to continue crying for a while. RJ has probably pooped and needs a diaper change, which involves chasing him around, catching him, and holding him down with my legs while he kicks and screams. Yes, he should be potty trained but he’s not so whatever.

And when I have to let JP cry to do other things – which happens several times a day – I feel SO guilty! I never let RJ cry like that (but he DIDN’T cry like that anyway)! It’s the second child who gets shafted. And let’s not get started on the guilt I feel for ‘ignoring’ RJ so much these days.

When RJ is settled with a clean diaper and a cup of diluted juice and some food, I feed the baby again, then put him down while I jump in the shower. I hope I can shower and run downstairs to get dressed before he starts crying TOO hard. When I finish ‘getting ready for the day,’ RJ and I play. I hold the baby “rock him” while playing trains or drawing or playing cars or playing tools or trying on different hats. I do it all one-handed. If our play takes us downstairs I try to start some laundry while we’re down there.

At some point, I realize that the baby has been awake for 3 hours and is probably quite tired. So I feed him and rock him to sleep and put him down. Three seconds later, he’s screaming to be picked up. The rocking to sleep and putting down and screaming routine continues until I realize it’s time for RJ’s nap. So I put the baby in the swing and hope he doesn’t cry TOO hard and take RJ downstairs with his bottle and book.

Then I take the baby out of the swing and back upstairs to be fed and attempt to put him down for a nap too. Eventually he’s so exhausted that he just falls asleep after two gulps of milk. He finally stays asleep for longer than 2 minutes but I’m hearing the older one scream for me from downstairs. So we do the bedtime routine again and I come back upstairs thinking I should probably have some breakfast – though by this point, it’s almost 2 in the afternoon.

But the little one is crying for food again. And I’m falling asleep on my feet because I was up all night warming up bottles and trying to get the baby to sleep somewhere other than on my belly.

Then RJ gets up from his nap a lot sooner than anticipated and he immediately wants to play. But of course the baby is crying again so I do the one-armed play. It’s survival time until Daddy gets home, which, with his job, it’s anybody’s guess when that will actually be.

And they tell you to nap when the baby naps… When would I have time to do the six million pounds of laundry and cook something for dinner

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m depressed about all this – because I’m not. I’m in love with my little boys, despite one being a helpless newborn and the other being a ‘terrible two.’ I love playing with RJ and I love how he’s old enough to have conversations now. He makes me laugh a hundred times a day! I also love having a newborn. He’s so tiny and floppy and adorable and I just can’t get enough cuddle time.

But it is hard right now.

So very hard.

Things got easier and better in the following months. Then they got hard again. More about that next time.

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