We all know that the transition from child-free life to parenthood is going to be hard, but no one prepares you for the leap from being a mom-of-one to a mom-of-two, argues writer Katherine Bebo.
About a year ago, I was at a gathering with my 6-month-old, Toby, strapped to my front and my 2-year-old, Josh, precariously close to a pond — when a family friend asked me how I was doing with the two boys. While I was contemplating my response, he answered for me: “It’s a bit like being waterboarded, isn’t it?” while nodding towards his own two boys, ages five and seven. One of who was dripping wet and shivering after having actually just fallen in the pond. “YES!” I cried, just as Toby pooped his diaper.
Although the waterboarding description is, let’s be honest, a little dramatic, it’s pretty spot-on. You do feel like you’re drowning, you do feel like you have no control, and, yes, looking after a baby and a toddler does sometimes feel like torture. Sleep deprivation and constant crying, anyone?
(Photo Credit: Katherine Bebo)
Going from no kids to one kid is obviously a huge, life-changing experience, but I was expecting that. OK, I might not have been expecting an audience every time I went to the bathroom, but I knew my life would never be the same again after having a baby.
With my second I thought, “I’ve got this. I know what I’m doing. I can change a diaper with my hands tied behind my back [so to speak].” But you know what, I didn’t have this, and I didn’t know what I was doing. And as for the diaper/hands-tied thing: completely irrelevant. I went into having two children with my eyes closed, which, in hindsight, was actually rather nice as I don’t get much sleep these days.
Although I love my boys more than anything in the world, becoming a mom of two knocked me down and made my head spin. With one child, you have good days and bad days; with two you have a good 10 minutes and a bad 10 minutes.
One of the biggest things that I wasn’t expecting was my temporary personality shift. I like to think of myself as a laid-back person: I don’t mind automated phone responses, I laugh in the face of traffic, and I really like flip-flops. But there were a few months when I was anything but laid-back. My stress levels were through the roof, and my patience was as thin as Victoria Beckham’s arms. When you have one child, most of the time you feel #blessed; when you have two, you feel #stressed.
I got very good at breastfeeding on the move. With my first, I got through the whole series of Breaking Bad because hey, I’m breastfeeding, so I can’t move. But when your toddler is demanding toast, water, and the orange crayon not the blue one, you realize that you can actually move and butter toast one-handed while resting the baby’s head on the counter. And if you do experience the rare treat of breastfeeding while seated, forget about following Walter White’s antics — it’ll be Peppa Pig and company getting lost in the fog that’ll keep you "entertained."
I was also taken aback and rather irked that my boys didn’t coordinate their "difficult" phases. Unfortunately, Toby was going through his put-everything-in-his-mouth phase at the same time I was potty-training Josh. A particularly low point came when I was cleaning up a #2 accident courtesy of Josh while Toby was crawling all over the place. When I caught up with him, he had someone else’s chewing gum in his mouth. Horrified didn’t even come close.
Another unexpected aspect of life with two kids was the bickering with my husband. Oh, the bickering! We would bicker about the house, we would bicker about work, we would bicker about food (who knew I had such an opinion on the best way to slice a zucchini?) Heck, we would even bicker about bickering. I guess being exhausted doesn’t really bring out the best in people.
When I wasn’t arguing, breastfeeding on the run, or retrieving Wrigley’s Extra from my infant’s mouth, I was attempting to tackle my to-do list. But not only did I never reach the end of my to-do list, I never actually reached the top of it because I was too busy with the above tasks. Also — laundry. How one extra little person creates 17 times more laundry is a predicament I’m still trying to figure out.
Despite all of these unexpected obstacles, now that Josh is at a nursery and Toby is sleeping a little better, I feel like I’m "out the other side" (kind of.) Even though I have felt "waterboarded" for the past year, I’ve had frequent gasps of lovely air — such as when Toby beeps my nose, or Josh makes me a pasta necklace — that have kept me (somewhat) sane and my head (just about) above water.
This post was written by Katherine Bebo. For more, check out our sister site Closer.
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