Little R is 9 weeks old now, and our family is learning all about life with two kids. I’m very lucky to have had Big R home with me for that whole 9 weeks, he goes back to work at the beginning of next week. I’m not going to lie – I’m scared. It’s the little things that are puzzling, like “What happens if you’re in the shower, and I’m feeding Little R, and then Moose needs help on the toilet at the same time?”, or “Once you go back to work, how will I be able to get dinner prepared if Little R cries whenever I’m not holding him, and Moose needs me to facilitate every activity for her?”. I can’t even begin to fathom how this all works once I have to go back to work too! Let’s not think about that….
So far I’ve found it to definitely be true that “the second one is easier”. The worry about the small things seems to be gone, ie. should I wake the baby to feed? Is he/she too hot/cold? etc. Little R is more settled and chilled than Moose was as a baby, but I have to wonder, is that just his nature or does that have anything to do with our raised confidence the second time around? Or is our confidence due to the fact that he’s a more settled baby? Hmmm. Maybe both factors feed off each other.
Guilt has been a major theme since Little R came home though. But not related to him. His sister rather. I don’t know whether it’s a result of his arrival, or simply that it’s more noticeable now that he’s here, but Moose’s “toddler-ness” seems to have ramped up. Her voice is louder, her footsteps heavier, her questions more incessant, her movements more rough. Our days are probably 1/3 content/happy/polite with each other, and for the other 2/3 of the time it’s a depressing cycle of “Ssssh Moose! Keep it down!“, and “No jumping/running on the couch/down the corridor/near the baby’s head!”, and “Go to Time Out!”, and “Listen to what you’re told!”. I’m sick of the sound of my own voice. I feel so on edge sometimes, while I’m trying my best to stay calm. I’ll be feeding Little R, and he’ll be hopping on and off the boob and fussing about, while Moose hops around in front of my feet, constantly making some kind of noise, her hair completely messed up and frizzy, writhing around on the dusty floor. Scenes like this just niggle at me, slowly, slowly. I can feel my temper warming up and reaching boiling point inside, and it takes every ounce of reason to stop it from letting loose, something I can’t stop half the time. And with each reprimand I feel more guilt being added on to my shoulders, and I feel like I’m crushing her spirit a little bit each time.
It’s so, so hard to find the balance between letting things slide and knowing when we’re justified in calling her out. I have to keep reminding myself (and Big R) to pick our battles with her, and to speak with love and understanding. My biggest downfall as a parent is my inability to pause before I react, and it’s so much harder to take that moment to consider your next move when there are TWO little people both vying for your attention. Once it’s said out loud, it can’t be taken back. I need to check myself before I wreck myself. I have this fear that the result of our impatience and actions at this point in time will be a stain on her early memories, that to her she’ll always think of this time as one of loneliness, feeling bullied and not up to scratch. That she’ll think of me as not-fun. That’s all very dramatic and my mind is running away with me, it’s not always a battle-field at our place. There are of course happy times, special moments, times when we do treat each other kindly and respectfully. But I’d say that at the moment, tension does boil over at least a few times every day. It’s too often. This issue is constantly being debated in my mind, and it’s driving me a little bonkers. But I’m hopeful that things will get easier, as they always seem to do with time.
I feel like I’m in demand all. the. time. Scrap that – I AM in demand all. the. time. I announced about eight weeks ago that I wouldn’t mind having a day nap. That still hasn’t happened. I have tried to prioritise going for walks with the dogs as something I need to do for myself (and them), but that’s not all restful. Especially the times when I come back to a screaming baby who needs my urgent attention. Moose’s bedtime is 8pm and she’ll usually go to sleep without a fuss. But that seems to be the time that Little R decides he’s going to fuss about, and both Big R and I are usually juggling him between us until maybe 10.30/11pm. At which point I’m so desperate for some “me” time that I’m not interested in going to sleep anymore. So of course I wake up absolutely wrecked from going to bed too late!
I also seem to have this creativity urge right now. I just want to write, and read, and knit, and learn, and watch, and record. I have all of these little projects in my head, just things I’ve been meaning to get done. Like get my photo files in order, put all my recipes together in a folder, revisit half-written first novel drafts I’ve started, things like that. I’m yearning to get stuck in to these things, but I just know I will only be able to devote maybe 10 minutes at a time to them before I’m interrupted by someone needing my attention for something. That sounds a little resentful doesn’t it. I’m not resentful, but I am restless and a bit frustrated. And I feel like if I don’t get to do something with this creativity urge soon, I’ll lose it and not get it back. This recent post by Veggie Mama mirrors a lot of my thoughts about creativity right now.
I’m formulating a plan in my mind of how I’d like to spend my days once Big R goes back to work, to make sure I’m finding a good balance between getting the necessities out of the way (housework, cooking, etc.), tending to the kids’ needs, and also having some time spare for my own interests. Time will tell whether I can stick to it and make it work. Keeping life simple, and my expectations low, are key to this.
Having been through parental babyhood before, I know (most of) what to expect in the coming months and years, and that it flies by very quickly. This insight is a wonderful thing to have the second time around. I’m looking at Little R in a different way to how I looked at Moose, still with the same wonder, but also trying my hardest to memorise every little thing about him at this age. And I can appreciate how slow and calm and simple life can be with a baby. This is the time when it’s ok to just sit with your new little babe, in the still and quiet, and simply let the world go on by while you marvel at them. For all its less-than-desirable side effects, life with a newborn is pretty special.