Many mothers warned me that having a second child would be a big jump (almost as big a jump as having your first). And, boy, were they right.
It all started easily enough. The Baby Blues came along right after I came home from the hospital. But this time, I was more aware of my needs and asked for -- and received -- help when I needed it. And as expected, there were some jealous moments my 2-year-old son experienced in those first few weeks. At one point, I literally could not leave the room with him and the baby alone together because he would hit her every chance he got. So I eliminated those chances (even if I had to bring him to the bathroom with me!).
Folks would ask me "How are you?" My reply? "I'm a tennis ball in a tennis match between my son and daughter." Back and forth, from one to the other, every minute, every hour, every day.
Some days I wanted to rip my hair out. The back and forth was making me crazy. Those were the times when my husband or my mother took my son for outings so I could get a break. Of course, this was also when the Baby Blues were in full force, so my husband or my mother taking my son for the day felt to me like I was failing him. I often felt the extreme closeness my son and I had shared was slipping away from me and it was breaking my heart. My son leaving for the day with my mother and not giving me a kiss goodbye made me cry for hours. I was certain he hated me for bringing home a new baby.
I can't say when those feelings ended exactly, but I do know that they started to faid away as my son's jealousy did. I tried as hard as I could to maintain our daily rituals -- yes, even the homemade blueberry pancakes. And slowly, it helped him see that I still loved him just as much -- and helped me to see that he still loved me, too.
And just before Christmas, my son told me, for the first time, "Mommy, I wuv woo!" It was the best Christmas gift I could have ever received.
Having gone through some terrible Baby Blues with a hint of postpartum depression when my son was born, I knew I needed to devote some time to myself, too. I started reading for enjoyment, relaxed and did NOTHING if I felt like it, and took up yoga again. I am now a firm believer in the power of yoga -- and am certain it has saved my son's Terrible Two back end on several occassions.
I still feel like a beaten up tennis ball these days, but I try to recite my new mantra every chance I get: "BALANCE." Balance between my children. Balance between my mommy role and myself. Balance between my family and my career. I can't keep both children happy at all times, keep the house clean, cook three meals a day and get all of my work done everyday. I'm not perfect and pretending I can be is too exhausting.
What I want to know is how my parents did it. They had two kids, both worked full time outside the home, and our house was always immaculately clean. I never remember a time when there was disorder. I guess it helps having a father who's cleanliness is borderline obsessive compulsive (we're talking about a man who cleans up after the housecleaner has come by).
Oh well, I am counting on the notion that once the children are older (as in they have chores of their own to do), that's when my house and life will be a little more organized.
Was that a chuckle I heard out there?