My friend stopped by the other day to visit. After she’d been here a few minutes she said, sheepishly, “I watched a baby last weekend and I felt bad because I didn’t think it was very fun. It was actually not fun at all to have a baby AND my toddler around. It was stressful.”
I looked at her, wide-eyed, mouth dropped open in an incredulous ha ha kind of laugh.
“Oh, yeah. Listen. It is NOT fun having two little kids. We are not having fun over here.”
And I meant it.
When I was pregnant with Sam and people found out how close our kids would be in age, anyone who had kids the same distance apart would tell me the exact same thing:
The first year will blow. After that it’s all worth the trouble.
Obviously I didn’t believe them because I love Clara sooo much and also I am a really good mom and also I used to direct camps and run after school programs for hundreds of kids and also how much harder could two kids be than one?
Oh my gosh. So much harder. It’s so much harder, you guys. What did I ever think was difficult about ONE baby?
And now Clara is driving me crazy.
Living with a toddler is like living with a cranky foreign exchange student. Who also poops her pants. She speaks very little English, yet has mastered enough words to convey her extreme displeasure whenever I don’t know what she wants/doesn’t want/thinks she doesn’t want/wanted a few seconds ago but now is outraged that I think she still wants it. Sometimes it feels like every new phrase she learns is simply a new weapon in her arsenal. She’s smart. Really smart. I appreciate her social awareness and wicked sense of humor, and I know that she is a sharp girl. But guess what? I don’t care how smart she is, I just want her to stop yelling at me about everything. This morning she started asking me WHY. Can you imagine? As I’m wiping poop off of HER butt, she has the audacity to ask me WHY she can’t wear two pairs of pajamas at once. Look, kid, in the hierarchy of life, those who do the butt wiping make decisions for those whose butts are being wiped. End of story.
A lot of people tried to comfort me as Sam’s birth approached, assuring me that I would always have enough love for both of my babies, that I would love the new baby as much as Clara, that mourning my time with her was normal.
And I was like, What’s that now? I should feel sad about a new baby coming?
I never worried about loving both of my kids. I never worried about losing any precious alone time with Smooch. I felt exactly the opposite: I was sad to miss out on the magic of the first year with my son, because I knew I would be busy with my daughter. I wanted to give him that same experience I gave Clara, to sleep in together and stare into his eyes for hours and spend every minute getting to know each other, but it isn’t possible. Instead I spend most of my time protecting him from Clara’s loving hands. And fingers. And gigantic loving head. I’m just praying that he is translating every thwarted head-butt and quickly diverted ‘let me lay across your tiny rib cage’ lingering hug as a Mama loves you, baby. Because safety equals love, right? Maslow said that, RIGHT?
I wanted our kids close together. I wanted to give them the joy of close friendship and a life of being raised in the same pack. So I’m happy we were able to get pregnant when we wanted to, and every time Clara wakes up from a nap and immediately asks where her brother is, I swell with adoration for my babies. We’re getting the hang of this. Every day gets better with these guys, and we’re slowly finding our new rhythm of being at home together, of being four instead of three, and of finding space for a 19 month old and a 3 month old in our patience, understanding, and willingness to laugh at the bad times. Because surprise! There are bad times. But there are also moments of sweet wonder, when the gray light of morning is creeping over our bed full of sleeping babies, and I can’t believe how much love can even fit in one house.
So yeah. It’s not always fun having two little kids. But it is wonderful. It is funny. It is good.
Even when one of them is calling you ‘Jess’ and refusing to eat the apple that she JUST ASKED TO EAT.
Happy Tuesday, guys. Take a deep breath, eat your damn apples, and call your mothers to tell them sorry for every tantrum you ever threw.
Love from the Horney crowd,
Jessie, Sam and the hooligans in the room next door