A response to this post: having two kids is not very fun.
My mom and Sam's mom both swear by the 3-Month rule when it comes to adding a new baby to a home. They say it takes three months to establish a new routine, three months for the baby to adjust to the outside world, and three months to start feeling like yourself again. However. I had family staying at our house for extended weekends by the time Clara was two weeks old, and hosted Thanksgiving dinner along with her dedication at church celebration by the time she was three months. So while I appreciated their advice to take it slow, I didn't feel like I needed a long time to get back to myself. Looking back I see that I was basically running on adreneline and blind confidence, but that first six months of Clara's life were heaven on earth and I felt great.
Fast forward 16 months. I bring home teensy tiny baby Sam after a stressful pregnancy and a week in the hospital and KABLAM, kick me in the nuts, I was out of my mind exhausted and overwhelmed. I was sleep walking, I was crying, I was eating all my feelings and everyone else's too, we were quarantined to our house so the baby wouldn't get the flu: it was bleak. It seemed like a good idea to get pregnant when Clara was 8 months old because you know, she would be so much older by the time the baby arrived (??) but guess what! She was still a baby too! Who knew? Our home vibrated with the absolute dependence for survival of two small, incoherent humans. Lord help us.
There was really nothing to do but pray. So we did. We prayed, He answered, and things are getting better.
Things are getting a lot better, actually. Yes, they are young. But they are so small and smell so good, and I like that they both fit in my lap. I like that I can carry them both around the house if I feel so inclined. Which I often do, because an armful of squirming babies is funny and it makes me laugh. Also- I like baby Sam. A LOT. He sleeps all night. He takes 2 hour naps with no cajoling necessary. He is always thrilled to see me and he is almost never upset. He smiles with his entire body and he has a dimple in his right cheek. It's a little much on the cute factor sometimes, honestly, like the other shoe has got to drop, but hey: I'll take my perfect baby while I can. Soon enough he'll be stomping his foot and running away from me in front of the unimpressed Baby Gap clerk, so. For now he can be my delight.
Another big improvement: Clara.
Just, Clara. For some reason- no, for two reasons- my interactions with her are moving further from "slit my wrists" and closer to "I really like being with you." Here are the two reasons (I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat).
1. SENTENCES. She is speaking in sentences and I cannot begin to tell you the lowered frustration level for both of us when she can say what she needs. And there is an enormous difference, by the way, between her saying "hep, hep, HEP!" (help) and "hep up please, mama." Or, "point, cry, moan, wail, throw huge fit" and "more blueberries please." The days are so smooth, I feel like I'm dreaming. She's always been a good talker, but every day she is stringing together more and more thoughts and ideas. It's not only a joy to watch her language develop (it's like a social experiment that I'm directly affecting) but our relationship with her is taking a new direction as we communicate more effectively. I tell you, when she looks me right in the eyes and says "Thank you, mom"- kill me. It's the best.
2. SPANKINGS. Capitalizing that word makes me nervous, since I'm sure there are more than a few people who won't like this. But that's ok: my kid, my blog. Ha! So. Spankings. Clara's toddler attitude paired with bringing home a new baby were not a great combination. In my tired, emotionally distressed state, I was letting her get away with WAY too much. Her modus operandi when it comes to being naughty is to whine and disobey. She's not a climber or a destroyer; she's sneaky and likes to talk back. And I don't know, I guess I wasn't giving her enough credit, if I really dissect the whole problem. She knows when she is disobeying me. She knows what I am asking her to do. And by not holding her to high enough standards, I wasn't giving her a chance to learn self-discipline, or learn the pleasure of living in peace with her family. That probably sounds crazy, but listen: it took ONE WEEK of being really hard on her, and our whole house changed for the better. I spanked, I started getting serious about time outs (30 second time outs, mind you) and I consistently required that she answer me "ok, mama" even when she didn't want to do what I asked. One week. And she was a different, happier, just as busy and fun-loving girl. Anyone who thinks kids are innocent, or acting out because they don't know any better, or just need re-directed, either have really dumb kids, or really smart kids who fooled their parents. Clara is so much happier now that I am requiring more of her. She whines less, she (usually) obeys faster, and you know what happens after I discipline her?
She gives me a huge hug and kiss.
Every single time. She likes knowing I'm in charge. And she likes knowing her boundaries. After that one hard week, I rarely have to spank, and usually 10 seconds into a time-out she jumps up and says, "happy, mom. happy!" Nothing really changed in her, you know. She's still Smoochie, still likes to talk back, still likes to have her way (who doesn't?) but something in me changed. And it's for the better. The balance of power has been reestablished in the direction of the person who is actually in charge, and we are all enjoying the new sense of peace and joy in our house. Here's a blog I read that helped me when I was ready to lose it with her. I like this lady a lot, and her no-nonsense approach to parenting. It makes the most sense to me, and puts into words what I know to be true.
Things are getting better. And having two little kids is starting to be really fun.
Pictures from our mother's day picnic. Thanks for these lovely shots, Joel and Deborah :)