I’ll be honest, I was not prepared for the transition from one to two kids in motherhood. It has been the hardest, most amazing, terrifying, and chaotic thing that has ever happened in my life. There have been many ups…and many downs, but it has been so, so worth it. While I know this experience hits differently for every mom, this is my experience.
How can I possibly love a new child as much as I love my current child?
This is a common fear you often hear from moms of one. Owen, my firstborn, was my whole entire world. We took him everywhere and spent a lot of one on one time with him. It was easy to take Owen places by ourselves and we could easily tag team, so we could both do our own things as well. For the most part, we were in a good rhythm and felt like we kind of knew what we were doing. Kind of.
Enter Brooks. My lively, charismatic, snuggly, Tasmanian devil of a second child. I realized after having Brooks that you really CAN love a second child as much as the first. The second they’re here, your heart expands and you can’t imagine a life without both. Snuggling another tiny little baby who needs you for everything is the most magical feeling. Those first couple of days in the hospital, I was so excited for what was to come. Owen came up to the hospital to meet his little brother. He wasn’t sure what to think of the little creature at first, but soon was touching him saying “baby” and “mine” over and over again. He figured out that the baby in my tummy turned into an actual baby, which was so amazing to witness. I dreamt of the bond these two sweet boys would have growing up and all of the adventures they would have together
The hardest thing for me as a mother of two is constantly being pulled in two different directions.
When we got home, the challenges began. At two years old, my oldest naturally wanted a lot of attention. He was learning so much and loved to do puzzles and play cars with us, but breastfeeding Brooks meant I wasn’t available a lot of the time. This broke my heart, especially having to tell him over and over “not right now” or “baby is eating.” I could see the hurt in his eyes. He was used to me being available whenever I needed him, and he was resentful the first few months, which made things a little tense. Add in that the world shut down a few weeks after coming home, and all of us were home 24/7. This made things even more interesting, as we needed to keep two boys busy and entertained all day every day. I hadn’t quite gotten a handle on two at that point, and it definitely was a rough period.
Even now at four and almost two years old, I still struggle with this part. Both of my boys need such different things and different stimulation. It can be hard to find activities for us to do all together. I have to identify and play to their similarities, so painting and trucks is usually what we land on. When possible, my husband and I try to divide and conquer and play with each of them on their level. They thrive on that personal connection with each of us. Sometimes that looks like a bike ride for my older one with dad while I play trains or read books with the younger one. It isn’t a perfect system, but we are trying our best. Sometimes it looks like chaos and fighting. A LOT of fighting. And SO MUCH NOISE. Sometimes we build train tracks together…only for the younger one to come in and destroy it all. Godzilla strikes again!
The tiredness. Oh the tiredness.
Though the days of sleep deprivation are long behind us, a new kind of tiredness creeps in that only parents of toddlers understand. It truly is go go go from sun up to sun down.It can be hard to get quality time with my husband because we are so mentally exhausted by the end of the day and still have work and house things to get done. I feel like I lost my sense of self in the last couple of years. I stopped doing anything just for me and I felt like a mom with no other identity. It definitely starts to take a toll. But thankfully, that has slowly started to come back now that my kids are getting a little older. I have gotten back into the gym, made an effort to get together with friends, and even started coaching Crossfit classes again. And my husband’s band has picked up steam the last couple of years. For us, life is slowly evening out.
I knew having two kids would be tough while they were so little, but I am so thankful that they have each other.
While there have been many challenges over the last few years, there has also been so much joy. Though it is never quiet around here, sometimes the house is full of happiness and laughter. I love listening to them have their own conversations and giggling together. They make up their own games, run races, hunt for monsters, play hide and seek, etc. I love that they want to share a room, even though it’s not necessary. I love how different they are and how they complement each other. The image of them snuggling on the couch, watching tv with one on each side melts my heart. Picking them up from daycare and hearing them both come running off the playground yelling “mommy!” and “mamamamama” like I hadn’t just seen them a few hours ago. Watching them thrive at school, making friends, learning new things everyday. All of it. I am so grateful of how proud and supportive my parents have been throughout my life, and now to feel that pride for my own kids is an amazing feeling.
So yes, it is HARD. And AMAZING. And it is okay for it to be both at the same time.
Jenny Kelley is a middle school teacher and a mom of two awesome boys: Owen is four and Brooks is almost two. She also has a wonderful husband, Nick. Their house is noisy and chaotic and they wouldn’t have it any other way.