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1 Year With 2 Kids Taught Me 3 Things
by Jennifer Henry
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November 5, 2018

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12 Minute Read

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1 Year With 2 Kids Taught Me 3 Things

From tips on tackling her inner Tiger Mom to putting her own needs on the “to do list,” this mommy has some advice that she wished she would have received before birthing her first baby.  

Courtesy of Jennifer Henry
Courtesy of Jennifer Henry

A few days ago, my second baby turned one.

HOW SWAY?! HOW?

Flooded by the emotions of him getting older and the finiteness of the baby stage, I realized that this year actually crept by as I hoped it would. I mean that in THE best way possible.

I have two kids –– “The Kid,” who is seven, and “Bawse Baby,” the aforementioned baby who just hit his momentous first birthday.  With our first child, we had no clue what to expect so we continually looked forward to his next stage. So much so that we sort of rushed through his infancy ruled by development charts and worries that he wouldn’t hit the next stage of physical, emotional, and mental growth –– as described by said chart –– in perfect timing and what missing that mark could possibly mean.  

Then, The Kid was six, and we realized that we worried about things that we shouldn’t have. We also realized –– too late –– that the most clingy years had flown by.  

I just knew that I would remember all the details of his early days –– how velvety soft the soles of his hands and feet were, how silky his newborn hair was, how helpless and trusting his newborn cries sounded.

Alas, even with the aid of pictures and videos, those details slip through the grasp of my mind like sand through an hourglass, replaced by the flesh and blood boy who, slowly, lost all interest in cuddling.  

During my second pregnancy, I told myself to go slowly and smell the flowers, because my first son taught me just how fleeting, finite, but oh how sweet the first few years are. Now, here we are, at one year of having two children. This time, I think I did a MUCH better job of flowing with the days and seeing the silver lining in those things that appeared slightly cloudy.

With that in mind, I have some advice that I wish I’d received before we had our first baby.  Here are the three lessons that one year with two kids taught me.

LESSON NUMBER 1–– This too shall pass.

Every day that passes will never be re-lived. Seems obvious, but in motherhood –– nay in parenthood –– there are stages in infant/child development that TRY. YOUR. LAST. NERVE. Although those stages may last for a mere few weeks, they are often accompanied by sleep deprivation or differences in parenting approaches with your partner which can make the weeks seem like a year.

The first time around, I allowed those rough patches to truly stress me out. Most of the stress was rooted in a fear that this wasn’t a stage but a new permanent state of life. I can LOL at this thought now.  Baby #1, The Kid, taught me to just focus on helping Baby #2, Bawse Baby, navigate through “the fourth trimester of pregnancy” without the fear and stress I felt, because now I know, “this too shall pass.

I have learned to embrace a growth mindset that makes constant use of the word YET. For example, Bawse Baby is not sleeping through the night YET. Eventually, he will.  He will move past whatever “moment” that currently feels like it will be my doom.

Courtesy of Jennifer Henry
Courtesy of Jennifer Henry

In the blink of a hindsight-wise eye, Baby #1 became Big Kid #1, and all I wanted was to cuddle my baby all night again. So, I’m savoring the neediness of Baby #2 and focused on the developmental purpose of each stage no matter how trying it is. What’s more, I’ve learned to apply this same approach to parenting The Kid! So I make a constant effort to give him as much patience and understanding as I can, and then I add a little more. I know now what Jadakiss said is true, “We gon make it. We gon make it, we gon make it.”

 

LESSON NUMBER 2 ––Make time for me and all the things I want to do because YOLO. 

I remembered that before I was a mom, I was a whole person with likes, hobbies, friends, and the like. And those hobbies and friends had nothing to do with my future kids. I was a complete adult with a whole, happily lived life. When I became a mom with Baby #1, I neglected the momless parts of myself.  

Turns out, neglecting those momless parts of me made me a tired, exhausted Mom.  I wasn’t putting my needs on the “to-do list.” But those needs, those hobbies and likes and friends that make me feel like me –– those are energy and life giving.  No one benefited from that sacrifice, least of all ME!

So, Baby #2 reminded me to put me on my “to do list” daily. I make deliberate space for guiltless me time. I reconnected with friends who stay on my mind but not on my recent text or call list. I took classes at the community college that furthered my hobbies and gave me quality time with my sister, who was also my classmate. I plan ahead by putting things for myself on the calendar.  This self-care is now handled with the same level of importance as planning The Kid’s homeschooling calendar, and we all benefit from this investment in me.

LESSON NUMBER 3 –– Retire the Tiger.

 

The first time around, motherhood was uncharted territory. I was the Stephen Bishop of my expedition in motherhood. Every stage of The Kid’s life was full of love, joy, surprise, worry, and anxiety about the unknown. Unfortunately, no matter how many books I read, parents I consult, or experiences I have, The Kid’s life will always be a huge learning curve for me where each age and stage will be my first rodeo. For example: Is this baby’s sudden fever and runny nose a grave illness or just teething? These sorts of dichotomies characterize my path in parenting the first time with The Kid.

Baby #2 benefits from the lessons I learn with The Kid.

Do I have to be Tiger Mom about circle time in order for Bawse Baby to develop a love for reading and math? Probably not. For one, having a second baby requires you to share the energy and time between two kids that you formerly only gave to one, so literally “ain’t nobody got time for that” Tiger Mom type of hyper-focused concern on the minutiae of daily childhood.

Secondly, parents and older children help by serving as guides to the younger kid. I realize that consistency in parenting and household habits are great teachers on their own. Simply having personal and family routines that include cornerstones like reading, organization, and respectful interactions give Bawse Baby a foundation and a model to emulate. The previous stress and anxiety that I attached to making sure The Kid learned these things, is almost nil in Bawse Baby.

BONUS –– There is beauty in the return of old habits.

Baby #2, my Bawse Baby, made Baby #1, aka The Kid, want more snuggles and cuddles again. So now, co-sleeping (YES I SAID IT) is back with mornings filled with the four of us snuggling into the sunrise. I know that these moments are life’s most precious gifts, and I savor each second.

There is much more joy and satisfaction in savoring the highlights of parenthood. It doesn’t mean you approach the serious, more difficult parts without stress. It simply means that you whoo-sah the stress by taking the lesson.  Note the reasons why said difficulty is present in order to make the most healthy use of that temporary stage.

For example, Bawse Baby is not sleeping through the night, but remember what I said about YET?  Those three little letters mean a lot to me and capture the majority of what seven years of parenting has taught me: It’s a process. I don’t regret the journey, mistakes and all, because I wouldn’t be where I am otherwise. For the inevitable times when self-doubt, anxiety, and stress creep back in, I have my lessons to steer me clear of letting those thoughts take root.

Courtesy of Jennifer Henry
Courtesy of Jennifer Henry

My hope was that this first year with two babies would move slowly so that I could selfishly savor the sweetness of my life as me, a wife, and a mom of two. In this year I’ve rediscovered my friendship with myself, my girls, and The Kid. I’ve also applied these same lessons in stress-control and savoring the moments with my children to my marriage.  And, each day, my husband and I find yet another way to enjoy each other, this as we lead into year 15 of being madly in love.

So all in all, one year with two kids taught me how to be a better me. And if that is the extra credit, I’ll take it.

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