So how is it going being a mom of two? The question I am most often asked these days. It is truly hard to believe I've been at this for 12 whole weeks now. 3 months. A quarter of a year. Yikes. It truly feels like we got home from the hospital yesterday, some days. Transition is a tricky thing. I try my best to prepare for it, research it, talk about it, obsess about it - what will the other side look and feel like. But no matter what you anticipate, transition takes on a life of its own in the end. Which is a scary thing sometimes. And sometimes is a good thing - it can be far greater than you could have imagined.
The last three months have been all those things. Let's just say it's been scary and sad and wonderful and happy and allllllll of the feelings. Some of the things I anticipated happened - my heart grew the moment Owen was born bigger than I could have imagined. My love for both my babies is out of this world huge. I anticipated being tired (duh, understatement of the year), I anticipated being challenged by taking care of two little people simultaneously (sometimes easier than I imagined, sometimes infinitely harder in some moments), and I anticipated feeling guilty not having all my time and attention devoted to Reese (aka all she has known her whole life until now).
After Owen was born, I knew it would be hard to return to work full-time, even after taking maternity leave. Before, Reese had been attending daycare three days a week, and even that was daunting to afford. It was told to me days before heading out on maternity leave that my flexible office days would be ending, and I was expected to return to the office five full days a week. I knew that putting both of the kids in daycare, full-time, five days a week, wasn't going to be financially feasible. So, it was decided that I would stay home with our babies for a year, and return to work next fall. By then, Reese would be four and could enroll in a pre-K program which would hopefully be more affordable, and Owen would be almost 18 months old, which would mean avoiding ultra-expensive infant daycare during his first year.
I knew staying home would leave me with mixed emotions. And it definitely has. I knew I would be obviously stressed about making our lives work on one income. I worry about what I will find for work a year from now, and that taking a pause from my career path in the nonprofit sector might be completely detrimental to my future prospects. And feel a mix of envy and pride for my friends who are killing it in their careers and going after what they want with a singular focus. I feel so far from that at this moment.
I knew I would love being home with our babies and I do feel incredibly fortunate and blessed to be able to be here with them during Owen's first year of life, and at a time when Reese really needs us. It seems the end of the two's and the start of the three's is especially challenging for us. I also knew some days I would feel like I'm going crazy, and that is definitely the truth. On tough days, I have fleeting moments of regret, and feel totally isolated. Feel like I'm not doing enough and I can't keep it together. And the days activities are monotonous, mindless and yet overwhelming - nursing a million times, changing diapers, being spit up on 12 times a day, preparing food and snacks, cleaning up all the food and snacks, washing dishes, infinite loads of laundry, finding lost toys, calming tantrums, etc etc.
This is not complaining, again, I am sooooo super grateful to have the chance to be home with Reese and O. But it really is a dual-sided thing. Nothing is easy. Staying home is hard. Working and putting kids in childcare is hard. There truly isn't a perfect choice. Everyone's situation, kids and lives are different, but I'm sure as mothers we all share many of the same feelings.
However, I think I do know a bit about transitions from doing this motherhood gig for a few years now. It takes a while to find your groove. I know I will find mine again, but it will look and feel totally different from before. I know there will be days where it feels easy and everyone is happy, and on those days I am thankful and grateful and want to bottle the feeling and keep it for later. And on the days it feels hard, I drink more coffee, try to scale back expectations for the day and for everyone, leave the laundry on the floor, and remind myself to take it hour by hour, minute by minute sometimes. To take a deep breath before reacting (but sometimes I forget to do that), and give a hug instead of lashing out. On the days that last forever, I try to remind myself that this doesn't last. Babies aren't babies forever. The first twelve months go by so fast. I really am trying to soak in Owen's littleness in the calm, quiet moments. Take a million pictures on my phone. Squeeze him into the 0-3 month size onesie a few more times. I don't want to wish this away, even when it's hard. Because I know at the end of my life, I won't regret spending this time with our babies while they were babies. I won't wish I spent more time at a job, at a desk, at a screen, even if it means less money for now.
So how is it going, being a mom of two? I love it.