Motherhood and the Art of Letting Go: From One to Two
As I lay on my couch, eight months pregnant and too tired to move, tears welling up in my eyes, toys scattered across the living room and my toddler napping beside me on the couch, the thought of dinner became a distant memory. I felt like I was failing and I was completely terrified of what was to come.
“I can’t do this”, I said to my husband as he walked in the door. “How is this even possible and how am I going to take care of two of them?” We didn’t make it to the park for ‘toys in the park’ that day and my toddler did not want to nap in his crib, so I’d “given in” and we both napped on the couch. Everyone was fine and yet the ideas in my head of what this should all look like were making me feel like I was failing and our youngest wasn’t even here yet. I had so many doubts about something that hadn’t even happened yet.
I started this series when my oldest, who is now only 23 months, was still a new baby and I only had one little one to take care of. I felt overwhelmed, insecure and had reached a point where I could finally be open about this and share those feelings. Motherhood is one of the most challenging and beautiful things I have ever experienced and no matter what stage my little ones are in, it’s always changing; bringing new challenges and, of course, new joys.
As I approached the birth of our youngest, who is now only four months old, I couldn’t help but feel so many different things; excitement, I couldn’t wait to meet this baby, fear, I was afraid of losing the one-on-one time with my oldest and insecure; I wasn’t sure if I was capable of doing this with two little ones both under the age of two. So I’ve compiled a short list of things I’ve had to tell myself to stay positive in this new stage of our every changing journey. With two-under-two letting go has never been more of a challenge.
There will be Tears
One of the most difficult parts of having two little ones is the fact that I can’t always be in two places at once and so, inevitably there are tears. When I only had one baby to care for there were tears, a lot, or so it seemed. Now there really are tears because I can’t physically be in two places at once. So sometimes everybody’s crying, even me. Though this feels crazy while it’s happening, I’ve had to learn that it’s inevitable and to just ‘get-on-with-it’ rather than wallow in self-pity. I can help each one of my babies, one at a time, and when everything is sorted out and everyone has been tended to we will all be ok. But there will be some tears because babies and toddlers cry and that is ok.
When I only had one baby to care for there were tears, a lot, or so it seemed. Now there really are tears because I can’t physically be in two places at once. So sometimes everybody’s crying, even me
There will be more Mess than you can Manage
The mess is a hard one for me; sometimes I find myself cleaning up around my toddler and have to stop because I realize how unproductive this really is for everyone. When you have kids (plural) there is going to be a mess and while this can seem manageable sometimes, it’s not always going to be. This is a hard thing for me to handle and I am hoping to one day learn to love it. For now, I am working on accepting the reality of it and only cleaning up only twice a day, because any more than that is just nuts. I’ve also realized that toddlers kind of like to help out and well, we sing the ‘clean up’ song a few times a day now over here. And sometimes, but only sometimes, when that song is over my almost-two-year-old finds a spot for all of his toys.
There will Always be Judgement
When I had my first it felt like the judgement was coming at us from everywhere and it was a lot to handle then. The funny part is that then, with only one little one, who was barely walking and talking, there really wasn’t that much to judge. Now that I have two very young children, a four-month-old and a 23-month-old, we’ve got a lot happening and well you could definitely find a way to pass judgement. The good thing is I’m almost always too busy to notice these days and I am starting to realize that the judgement (the looks you might get when your toddler doesn’t want to put on his snowsuit) say more about the onlooker than they do about us.
Because we’ve all been there and well, if we haven’t it’s inevitable that we will be there at some point because there is no such thing and the perfect parent and no one’s kids are perfect.
I’m not sure when I will stop caring entirely about the judgement or unwelcomed advice from strangers, but what I have learned to do in the meantime is to try and be compassionate to others in public and maybe pass along this sense of empathy. For example; rather than looking down on someone who’s three year old is have a tantrum in the toy store because the line up to pay is filled with candy at their eye level (which, I might add, is potentially the most disturbing form of marketing I’ve ever experienced) I’ve decided that smiling and talking with the mom about our shared experience might be a better option. Because we’ve all been there and well, if we haven’t it’s inevitable that we will be there at some point because there is no such thing and the perfect parent and no one’s kids are perfect.
Where there’s a Will there’s a Way
I’m not really one for positive “self-talk,” I’m not really sure I even fully understand how all of that works, but to be perfectly honest, when I think positively about the activities we are doing that day or I try to keep positive and take deep breaths while both my little ones are having multiple poop explosions all over my house and my dog is puking on the couch, the day actually goes a little smoother and I figure it out. Staying positive amidst crazy amounts of chaos isn’t always easy, but man does it make for a faster recovery. I’ve also found that things I never thought were possible before, like taking care of two babies all day on my own, actually are if you give yourself a chance. It might not be perfect, but it is possible.
Strive for Peace, not Perfection
Perfection is this crazy version of reality that can sometimes seem real or achievable and when we start to think about our lives in this way really bad things start to happen because our reality can never match those kinds of expectations. For example, the perfect morning might be checking everything off my to-do list, exercising, meditating and having a long luxurious shower and two cups of coffee before the kids wake up. Wow, when you put that insanity down on paper it really gives you a sense of perspective. That ideal is nuts!
We all have ideas of what a day, a week or our whole lives should look like but when you try to make that perfection a reality you may be disappointed
Reality, my alarm goes off and both kids are already in my bed, I’m nursing one and the other is asking for snacks and Paw Patrol. The dreams of a shower and gazing into my hot cup of coffee are mostly out the window. Instead, I figure out a way to give everyone what they need so I can at least take a sip of cold coffee and maybe have a two-minute shower. We all have ideas of what a day, a week or our whole lives should look like but when you try to make that perfection a reality you may be disappointed. So instead I’ve started to strive for peace. I don’t mean world peace, as much as I would love to be a part of this and one day help that movement, I know that isn’t something I can do all on my own. I mean peace in our home; making sure we all have what we need and are as happy as we can be.
Parenthood is one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced and I know that it isn’t going to get easier and I probably won’t ever figure it out, but what I have learned is that if you start from a place of love, stay positive (as much as possible) and ditch the desire to achieve perfection, things have a way of working out.