Mama of two...3 months in

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 real deal after a long day - messy living room, dirty hair, no makeup, babies in pj's by 6pm.

the real deal after a long day - messy living room, dirty hair, no makeup, babies in pj's by 6pm.

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.

a day I managed to wash and dry my hair...

a day I managed to wash and dry my hair...

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. 

twelve weeks!

twelve weeks!

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. 

Mother's Day Reflections

My second official Mother's Day is now in the books. It was a mellow weekend around here with the crappy weather. We woke up to snow on the ground Sunday morning.  Nick was on-call this weekend, which meant he was gone for most of the day on Mother's Day. So instead of hitting the spa, getting a pedicure, or going to a fancy brunch on Sunday, I was home, doing the mothering, like any other day! I was however, showered with a few lovely gifts - a crazy blue orchid, a pot of daffodil bulbs, a card, and a sweet little handprint painting that Reese made at school.

Mothers_Day_2015 - this little joy

Mother's Day is a funny thing.  It definitely brings up a lot of emotions for me, especially now that I am a mom to an actual mini-human.  But even before that, and for many other people, it can be a tough day.  It might even be a painful day.  Maybe you lost your mother. Maybe you lost your child. Maybe you wish more than anything that you could be a mother, but you aren't. Maybe you have zero desire to be a mom. Maybe you don't have the relationship with your mother that you would wish for. And seeing all the "happy mother's day!" posts on Facebook can bring it all to the surface. I have friends in all of these scenarios. I really thought about each one of them yesterday and said a little prayer for strength, healing and guidance for all of them. And I shied away from posting to social media altogether.

I'm definitely not the first to report that motherhood is tough. You kinda don't know what your in for until you do it - like jumping out of a plane or seeing the car crash in slow-motion before it happens. You can imagine it a million different ways ahead of time, and lord knows I did - reading, researching. writing, asking questions, praying - that I would be able to figure it out. 

                Reese - 1 day old

                Reese - 1 day old

It can feel like you have lost yourself entirely at times, and your only focus is tending to this little soul that you have been entrusted with. So the things that used to be important no longer matter, and things you thought you would never say or do in a million years become the every day norm.  Your love for this little soul is infinite, and heart grows exponentially to accommodate, but it no longer lives within you.  It really is suddenly transferred to this little being, and will forever be walking around outside yourself in this big world. So you do what all moms do and try your best to protect, shelter, nourish, soothe, teach so they can grown, learn and thrive. You pray for patience, you pray to hold it together some days and during some especially long nights. Other days are seamless and smooth and filled with smiles, matching outfits, cute Facebook posts and a clean house, and you thank god for the easy days to get you through the others.

Reese - 10 weeks old

Reese - 10 weeks old

I am no longer in the "i'm pregnant but not yet a mom" phase were everything could be romanticized and my new reality had yet to really begin, and I am no longer in the "I have a tiny sleepy baby" phase that is so challenging because of the newness of it all, but yet very direct in nature - eat, sleep, play repeat. I am now in the "I am responsible for this pint-sized human" that really is her own person and growing by leaps and bounds each day. Toddlers really are joy incarnated...until they're not. They can be independent and all-comsuming.  I hope my decisions are the right ones.  I hope she grows to be like me in some ways, and better than me in many other ways. I hope my decision to buy the organic berries and applesauce pay off, that she is healthy, happy, full and whole.

I think having a complicated relationship with my own mother has brought a lot of this into focus this year. This last year especially has given me insight into what my mom might have felt. It gives me some threads of common understanding while at the same time, causes me to come up short every time when I consider some of her choices.

The only thing I do know for certain is that every single woman's journey to and through motherhood is different, and there is little space for comparison or judgement. There is much more work to be done to support and care for mothers in all parts of the world, and acknowledge that raising mini-humans to inhabit and take over this planet for us when we are gone is kind of a big deal.

Mother's Day 2014 - Reese 8 months

Mother's Day 2014 - Reese 8 months

So this one is for all the moms out there - moms of babies, moms of furry animals, moms to friends and co-workers. No matter the form or step in the journey, thanks for doing your best each day. I hope you got your spa day, your brunch or a finger painting - or at the very least, got one of those easy, smooth days complete with smiles, matching outfits and a clean house (Facebook post optional).