As I was washing laundry the other day, listening to my boys playing happily and giggling, it dawned on me that we had finally found our groove. My eldest son came into the kitchen where I was folding with an activity book and instantly started asking an array of questions, most of them irrelevant and having nothing to do with the next. Meanwhile I was also fixing them lunch, dancing to music on Pandora, and realizing that in this very moment things were at peace.
Let’s back up a year or so: flash to me still in my pajamas with unwashed hair at 5:00pm, trying frantically to tackle several loads of backed up laundry, while doing my best to entertain two little kids, and wondering how many days in a row the kids will willingly eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. I remember thinking I would never catch on to this! There was just far too much to do! The meals, the wash, the dishes, the bathing, the stories, the questions, the diapers, and somewhere in there I’m supposed to take care of myself too??!
“How do people with three kids do it??” I would always wonder to myself.
Now let’s back up even further: flash to me snuggling my two year old in between spurts of defiance that are constantly reminding me how much he has grown up, feeling my unborn child pounding at that side of my belly, and worrying how I will go about taking care of two kids; will I have enough energy? Will I inadvertently favor one over the other? Will my oldest feel slighted on our attention because of the new baby?
Let me be the first to say: your concerns are VALID! Yeah, that’s right. It is totally normal to wonder these things! And it’s also totally normal if you’re still unsure about how everything is going to work out when your baby is no longer a baby! And it’s also okay if you’re still wondering about this same stuff when it comes to your third or fourth kid too!
In my opinion, that means you are a good parent! It’s normal for parents to be concerned about having enough love/energy/attention to give each of our children and also a desire for them to have the best that we can possibly offer. And, honestly, you will; it might take a little longer to get back into a routine, but it will happen. Even if it doesn’t happen immediately, give yourself grace, mama.
Imagine your home as an apartment and your children as roommates. Well, you’ve been living with one for such a long time already that it’s only natural that it will take some adjusting to add another person into your living situation – not to mention you’re responsible to feeding your new roommate and wiping their butt! Hah!
So if you might have to cheat a little on a few dinners and maybe let them watch a few more episodes of cartoons than normal, keep in mind that this is what they’re doing now… it does not mean that they will still be doing things this way a year from now!
I’ll tell you what it does mean; it means that your child now has a friend for life. There is rarely a bond as great as that of siblings and even though they may argue harder with one another than anyone else they will also love each other more deeply as well. My kids don’t always get along, but they truly love each other and it really is the sweetest relationship to watch!
My mother was over the other day, watching me hop from one foot to the other getting the kids dressed and ready to leave and made a very poignant observation. She said that the tough part about being a parent is that each day is so jammed packed with responsibilities and requirements that parents rarely get a moment to just stop and watch their kids enjoying life. She said it was her favorite part about being a Grandma because she could just watch them playing and exploring all day, especially knowing now how fleeting it all is.
Try this out next time you have a chance: Try sneaking up on the area where your children are playing and just watch them. Don’t intervene and watch your oldest be a kind older brother/sister. Watch your youngest discover that they’re finally strong enough to push two Duplos together. Watch them share readily and pretend together. Or even if you’ve got a singleton at home, watch them make believe for a few minutes and enjoy a small peek inside their imagination. It is truly a heartwarming experience!
“How then do you love each of your multiple children, if not the best or even equally? The answer is, you love them uniquely.” – Marianne E. Neifert