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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Double Duty

I have recently made the transition from grad student and working Mom of a 4 year old son, to STAH mother of two. Caring full-time for two is a COMPLETELY different ball game. When people tell you that having two kids is easier than one, please believe this - they are lying! Up until I brought my baby girl home, I thought I had this mothering thing licked! I considered myself kind of a "natural" at being an educated, engaged, and loving nurturer. I'm still all of those things - just short on sleep, patience and "me" time. My daughter is super cute and sweet and absolutely lovable! She is also demanding, a bit colicky and seems to enjoy seeing what's going on in the world every morning around 4:45am. It's been true of my experience that your second child will have a totally different personality than your first. My Nigel was a calm, quiet baby; my Nikke, well let's just say she's "expressive." She's a little feisty, and wants to be held, fed or entertained constantly. When I give into her desires to just cuddle and stare at each other all day we grow more & more attached, but other duties get shirked. When I am able to get some items checked off the daily to-do list silence is elusive. Someone is always hungry, crying, shouting or pooping! Even I talk too much, I say "pretty, pretty girl" and "be careful!" more than I'd like to admit. I feel like I'm always wiping something... bottoms, noses, counters, eyes, etc, etc. I don't want to seem grumpy, but I have been taken off guard by how hard it is!

I remember having notions that being home with your kids was the carefree, good life. I'm learning it's great, but far from June Cleaver domestic glam. While is it rewarding to be my children's primary caregiver, it is far from easy. There aren't enough hours in the day for all that needs to be done! Cleaning, laundry, gardening, bill paying, entrepreneurship etc. Don't even talk about pediatrician appointments, grocery shopping, summer camp and other errands that require us to leave the house. It takes two hours to get ready and into the car! Being the COO of your home means you're always on call - without overtime pay. Even though my husband and circle are supportive it's hard to believe they really understand what my days are like.

Though multi-tasking can't be avoided, I've allowed myself to take it one task, one child at a time when I can. The realization that once again I've entered uncharted territory has finally sunk in. I am spending this precious time getting to know Nikke and her quirks. She is a distinct baby, her own person, and I am discovering life with an infant all over again. What has been most stressful is having to prioritize which child gets my attention first. Of course, my big boy has been forced into a little more independence. (The Melissa & Doug magnetic responsibility chart has been a lifesaver!) Luckily because he's four, it's developmentally appropriate and not too distressing for him. But, because Mommy is "always busy with baby sister" he's gravitating more to Dad, who he likes "the 100% best". They have "man secrets" and honestly it hurts my feelings a little. I find myself obsessing about whether I'm being fair. I worry he won't "like" me anymore, or worse, resent his sister. I worry that she'll resent me because she doesn't get the uninterrupted attention he's been the recipient of for 4 years. That's a lot of worrying! Of course, it's probably for naught. Nigel adores Nikke, and she thinks he's hilarious! Both likely think Mommy is a little kooky.

Friends and family ask when/if we'll have another child. At this point my hands, home and heart are full! I am overjoyed with the brood we have, we're blessed to have one of each - a handsome son and beautiful baby girl. I can't say for sure that baby fever won't infect us in a year or two when Nikke is a toddler. By then we'll have forgotten about the sleepless nights and scores of dirty diapers. For now I'm happy to get used to my new role and concentrate on raising my dynamic duo.