Hi All! Most of my readers follow me on instagram and interact there, so you know I'm still alive... Running injuries just left me feeling uninspired and unable to articulate any emotions or feelings since nothing was really feeling right. I have a lot of blog posts brewing, and want to get back into writing about the less concrete side of running; some of what I've learned through injury and through 20 plus years of competing. How to balance performance based stress, how to manage emotions during low times, and more, With that being said, tonight is the eve of my second baby's first birthday, and I want to pick up where I left off, talking about motherhood.
I was a mother of two girls two and under for almost exactly a year (two weeks and two days shy)... I have learned A LOT but a here are a handful of the hardest things I learned.... the list is endless, because it's that difficult of a transition (In my opinion the transition from none to one is less jarring than one to two). So weather you have one child already and aren't sure if you are ready for a second... or maybe your expecting your second and want to know what you're in for.... or maybe you already have two and want to compare notes.... It's also for those you who have more than two kids and want to take this moment to laugh at my struggle wishing my problems were still yours (because everything is exponentially more difficult each child, I imagine). Or if you're just plain bored.
Here are Five Hard Lessons I learned once I became a mom of two (two and under)
1. Its NOT twice as hard...
Lets start at the most obvious and most important thing I learned: It's not twice as hard... OH NO! It's at least ten times harder than having one child... especially in those first few months where you are still getting to know this little stranger you took home from the hospital one day. I don't want to make it sound impossible, there are definitely things you have more confidence in having already had a child (like trying to put clothes on.... remember how you thought you'd break those little arms? Round 2? You've got this!) But for the most part, everything that just started getting easy is hard again. Potty training, toddlers sleep patterns, keeping a schedule, laundry... and things you haven't even thought of are suddenly issues. Like, how the hell do I get two kids in and out of the car? What happens if I'm in public and the older child starts throwing herself on the ground or refusing to walk? How am I going to carry her out when I don't have enough hands for this...? Everything is harder .... everything. You also pray a lot... and if that's not your thing, you probably self talk a lot "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can"... Or you just never leave the house. Leaving the house is scary... especially in those early stages. The level of difficulty, this first lesson, is so in your face those first few months that it needed to be mentioned all by itself even though in many ways it summarizes all of what's to come.
2. Shopping SUCKS!
This is important... because shopping is exponentially more difficult (as mentioned in lesson number 1, everything is). It's so hard that I had many people praise me on social media for trying so early. People even sent me suggestions on online shopping (like PeaPod) that helps you avoid the hassle... but I hate staying in one place so I put on my big girl pants and got to it. I put the toddler in the seat provided by the cart and the infant car seat (until recently) in the body of the cart. Everyone contained, I got this. This is my number 1 reason for shopping at Walmart. Not only can you fit both kids, but you can also fit your shopping list. (It's truly a no brainier that I shop here because it's also the closest store to me). As Raea got older, whenever I had my husband we'd practice with her walking and staying with me. Sometimes shes too tired to walk now, and Maebel no longer is in the infant carrier, so Raea is in the body of the cart and Maebel is in the provided seat. You gotta do what you gotta do but this takes time. Let me simplify it for you by breaking down some of the places I learned are good to go, or a no go when it comes to carriages.
Other places you can shop at comfortably: Cosco, Sams Club, BJ's, Wegmans
Moderately accommodating, as in you can fit the kids and minimal shopping list items: Target, Whole Foods, Babys R' Us (RIP), Shaws, Price Chopper (most grocery stores... but stick with above if you can).
Toddler/Infant FAIL: Kohls (I hate you!), Marshalls, Trader Joes (sad face), Michael's, AC Moore (forget about DIY projects anyway-Impossible), CVS, Party City
Other Major Fails: Nearly all clothing department stores. Not only do they not have carriages, but they barely accommodate a stroller, never mind a double stroller. When it comes to clothes just give up on life.... Sure, you can shop online, but your body is changing again... and you have no idea what its going to look like next so... Online is a risk.... So, your stuck with your halfway fitting clothes or you can do what I do, the Walmart Special... I'm just going to get milk, or juice, or some bodily fluid on it anyway... why would I spend a lot? Faded Glory FOR LIFE!
3. Your First Born has a lot to learn and will Still take up Most of your Time.
Your first child is at a weird age when you first bring home that baby... The toddler is discovering independence, but also lacking the skill or safety awareness or maturity to truly be independent, so your poor baby is on the floor kicking and screaming while you chase after, play defense for, and teach your first born how to do certain things themselves. Since maturity is a factor here, not everything can be successfully taught before the baby arrives... proceed with caution. For example, I tried really hard to finish potty training before the baby, but Raea just wasn't fully able to pull up and down her pants without making an even bigger mess, so I inadvertently made my life way more difficult because she was trained enough to hold it and ask to go and refuse to wet a diaper... but wasn't trained enough to actually do it herself. I can't tell you how many times I broke my own rules and told her "you have a diaper on, it's okay"....and then proceeded to argue with a two year old over this since she was way above wetting herself. Your baby wont be too mobile for at least the first 5 months, so take the time to teach independence in the areas you can as early as possible because once that newborn grows and gets mobile, you're going to need some true independence more than ever... but also, you'll need some back up! Both my kids walked really early (Raea 7 months, Maebel 9 months) so it's been a bit crazy around here. I was cooking one day and Raea made Maebel cry. When I asked her what she did (yes, I assumed she was picking on Maebel... #badmom... Don't worry it's in lesson 5). she said "Maebel put somethin' in her mouth!" and sure enough, Maebel had found a rock near the endless pile of running shoes, and put it in her mouth. Someday I'll have a mudroom, but until then, I have Raea watching Maebels every move! Which only occasionally has it's perks.
4. Feeding the baby is never ever relaxing.
I breastfeed, so I can really only speak to that, but I imagine it's similar for bottle fed babies too, infact possibly worse in the beginning because at least I have a free hand. When I had one child I loved breastfeeding. Talk about time to restore and rejuvenate? I know some people struggle, and I'm lucky I didn't, but once we got into the swing of things when it was time to nurse Raea (at least before she was mobile) I would just sit on the couch, watch tv or close my eyes... drink water, put my feet up, turn on music... ahhhhhh.... relax. No MORE. NO NO NO. Breastfeeding with two is so hard! because lesson number 3, your first born is a dangerous little human climbing on tables and chairs... opening refrigerators, spilling the tupperware everywhere, climbing on the couch your sitting on, jumping on the couch... pulling your hair, trying to sit on your shoulders, being so loud it's impossible to get the baby to sleep... ... Ahh... Ugh... Why can't you understand that if you just give us this little bit of time, I can play with you, or help you, or do WHATEVER YOU WANT... Just let us finish!!! This is one of the things that actually has gotten more difficult as the baby ages (and I think bottle would be easier at this point since most babies can hold it by themselves). Maebel can't make up her mind these days, she wants to play but she wants to eat, wants to play, wants to eat, latch, unlatch, latch, unlatch, teeth, teeth, teeth, TEETH!! I feel like an open bar and a chew toy at once, abuse! I.... cant..... even.... That's all I can say. She's one today, wean, wean, WEAN!!!! Why wont she wean!?
5. You Don't Learn Patience...
People might disagree with me here, but IMO you don't learn patience. Patience doesn't suddenly grow. I am an extremely patient person. My work involves a significant amount of patience, and it involves the same type of patience used for parenting (I'm a teacher for students with ASD, and most have significant behavioral difficulties... so I do a lot of discipline and behavior modification) and patience does not grow. I don't suddenly have more of it because I have another child. In fact, the last thing that happens to your patience when you have another child is that it grows. How can you get more patience when you are using it all up everyday? .... What you do learn is where and how to disperse your patience across the day. You learn the art of not giving an F about stuff at work or what that aHole driver did, because you have two little people at home who require a lot of your patience, and who deserve it. You literally don't care about things you used to because you can't. You don't have room to care. With that being said, you will run out of patience at home because now there are two... and lesson number one, this is exponentially harder. This has been especially evident for me as my first born is starting to become a little bit of a bully towards her younger sister. God it kills me when she knows shes doing something wrong but does it anyway. I yelled at her just today because she was intentionally scratching Maebel and literally saying "look mommy I'm scratching Maebel" and Maebel is screaming and I'm arms deep in dishes. Now I do this for work... I know she is looking for attention- she's a walking, talking, FBA- and the right thing to do is redirect and maybe pick up Maebel and give Maebel all the love in the world and ignore the scratching and talk about it later once balance is restored, but I've run out of patience. "In your room you go!" and now I'm a monster. "Punishment reinforces the punisher".... You don't learn patience, you learn to let things go, and maybe forgive a little. Forgiveness towards yourself for losing your cool, because it will happen. When you have one child you certainly lose it from time to time (although I can probably count on one hand how many times it occurred with Raea before Maebel, and now it happens almost daily) but there are a lot more chances for you to restore and rejuvenate with one (Lesson Number 4), with two you are in multiple directions all day... all day... so instead of patience growing, your ability to forgive yourself grows... and actually... as that grows, you become a bit less uptight and find ways to rejuvenate within the chaos. It's not patience growing, it's your ability to accept that you might suck at life sometimes, but as long as you are only a reasonable amount of sucky, forgive yourself, have a conversation with your child about your intentions behind your crazy shit , say sorry, and move on... lots of chances to get it right.
The Biggest Lesson I learned thought, and this isn't a hard part is that while patience doesn't grow,
When your pregnant, you are trying to wrap your head around how it will be possible to love another human the way you love your first. You intellectually know you will.... but you don't really know how. It doesn't make sense because the love you have for your first is endless... how can that occur twice (or three or four, or 8 times?) but it happens.... You do. You love them equally.... differently... but equally... and the coolest part is how different they are. It's not like you have a "type" like when you're looking for a partner in life... One can be loud and out going, and it's perfect... and at the same the other is reserved and introspective and you love that, too (neither of my kids are reserved, but it was an easier example to share than the examples I have).... Before I had kids I heard it all the time "It's so so hard, but so rewarding" and I didn't quite understand...I also didn't understand why people would be all like #wheredmybabygo? and be all sad about their kid growing up... but I get it now. My baby is one today... ONE! And my first born just turned 3. What?! How did this happen? It's so cheesy, but it's the realest thing ever:
"The days are long, but the years are short"
It's been a hard year, but the most rewarding.
Welcome to my blog! I've been blogging for a long time on various platforms. My intention has never been to reach the masses, but rather to give myself a chance to reflect and journal. I feel it at least challenges me to be somewhat coherent, however you can expect ramblings and grammatical incorrectness here!
I've recently been diagnosed with CECS and fPAES and had it treated with BOTOX of all things... So I suspect to see more and more people looking for answers with that in the future and hope to continue blogging so there will be easy to access follow-ups as that was helpful for me.
NOTE: Apologies that some of the pictures incorrectly load sometimes. I try to keep up with the glitches, but can't always! Hope it doesn't impact the blog experience for all the PAES visitors.