my baby turned one the other day. sigh...
what a year it has been...what a ride, an adventure...what a lesson and a privilege. my partner watched the kids for a couple hours on my daughter's birthday so that i could have time to reflect, for which i'm so grateful. being an introvert, i NEED time alone to reflect on major changes, otherwise i become this walking ball of emotion at risk of erupting at a moment's notice.
having two kids is the ultimate challenge. i'd say it's right up there with the learning curve a new mother experiences when she has her first but in a different way. you learn to have super-human stamina. there is virtually no rest with two young children, no sleep, almost no naps and no sleeping in. there is virtually no time to yourself (if you do things like baby-wear and co-sleep especially). the house is chaotic. you're constantly putting out fires. there is almost no quiet time. almost no time with your partner. no time to respond to emails in any significant way, or talk on the phone for long. because at any given time of the day, SOMEONE IS UP, and chances are, they're dying for some quality alone with you.
two kids need help dressing, two kids in car seats, two kids in winter gear, two kids who are (potentially) in diapers, two kids who need stories and songs at bed-time, two kids who also need nap routines, two kids to feed, two kid after whom to clean up, two kids' laundry, two kids fighting over the same toy, two kids who are sick at the same time. a few weeks ago, my husband and two children all had a stomach bug at basically the same time. this situation is particularly challenging because no one will come too close to help you because no one wants to get your bug. so you fend for yourself because you have no choice. you clean up two kids puke some time between when you're puking and your partner is puking. it is INTENSE.
however, it's also phenomenally rewarding, in ways i cannot really describe because i lack the skills to do so. you become this amazing team...you, your partner, your oldest and your baby. you all have to bind together, give yourself up temporarily for the good of the unit. which is a tough lesson for the older child, but they learn...and it's beautiful and indescribably touching to watch your older child transform into an older sibling and learn this important spiritual lesson. that you are not the centre of the universe. someone else needs your parents just as much as you do. it's a tough lesson for the parents too who had likely became accustomed to quiet time when their only child was resting. with two kids, you hit the ground running and don't stop until your head hits the pillow. and then 2 hours later, your baby wakes up and needs to nurse. a few hours later, your older child has a nightmare.
but we are a unit. and slowly becoming a well-oiled machine. as a year has approached, it's finally gotten easier. once my oldest consistently pooed on the potty, got himself dressed (even if it's all backward, at least he's doing it on his own), can help get the breakfast table ready, help put away dishes, grab me the wrap when i leave it upstairs, fetch the baby's boots, put on his own boots...and when the baby started making fewer wet diapers, started feeding herself solid foods, started to play independently with toys for a few minutes so that i could load the dishwasher...all this happened around the same time and life got less overwhelming. i no longer needed to be in two places at the same time as often. i started to have less melt-downs and started to smile more.
my baby is one and it's been a wonderful year. challenging but rewarding. it's like anything in life...the stuff that's worth it requires the most time, effort, and above all, personal growth and the striving to overcome the self. research shows that on a moment to moment basis, parents of young children are less happy than parents with older children or people without children. but i think that research is failing to present the full picture of any spiritual endeavor which IS NOT about constant moment-to-moment happiness, but about growth, development of character, controlling emotional impulses, keeping focused on something bigger than yourself, shedding of the ego and most importantly, LOVE. and love is hard work...ask any couple married who has been together for decades and decades. they haven't always been HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY, but wouldn't trade their love for anything. i will never regret the many sleepless nights where i rocked my baby for hours (i still do this). i'll never regret every single night i've slept with my baby beside me. i'll never regret the countless hours i've spent reading the same books and singing the same songs to my oldest. or the countless hours i've held my baby, even when my back begins to break. i don't even regret our family puke fest because it was a challenge we all overcame together.
forget moment-to-moment happiness. i'll take life and love any day, along with its challenges. try my best to live life on life's terms, not my own terms. to my two babies, and to my love, thank you for this stellar year and i look forward to all of our future adventures. happy birthday baby girl. I SURVIVED A YEAR WITH TWO KIDS!!!!! :D