Many people ask me, “What number of children was the hardest for you?” I’ve heard moms of large broods answer three or four children was their breaking point. That’s when they felt out numbered, that’s when all the children were still little, etc…And after that, well, things got easier.
Allow me to be completely honest when I say, for me, my breaking point was one. Not because he was a difficult baby. Hardly. He was a chubby angel. But the transition from non-parent to parent, for me, was a doozy.
Everything was new. From concerns over the color of his stools (I did save one in a ziplock bag and rush it to the pediatricians office. The doc couldn’t have been less concerned.) to frantically reading thick paperback volumes about common baby ailments, and in my frazzled state, I dropped the book onto my sleeping newborn. (That was the first of many Band-Aids to come.)
I can still remember his first little coo in our hospital room. He was just hours old and I was exhausted. As I rolled over to get some much needed shut-eye, he yawned and cooed. A darling, sweet coo. My eyes popped opened like a T-Rex you thought was dead. Someone else was in here with me! I was no longer alone and wouldn’t be for a very long time. This thought was both comforting and frightening.
I bawled like a toddler when my mother abandoned my baby and me in our tiny apartment and took off for the airport after a two week stay. “Don’t leave me!” I sobbed.
“Look, you can do this! Stupid people do this! All you have to do is be a mother to this little baby in this little apartment. You don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t have to take him anywhere. Just master a routine in this little space and go from there.”
And so our journey began.
Now, in hindsight, holding my fifth baby in my arms, one should have been easy. It should’ve been a breeze. No one else to feed, discipline or worry about. And what’s more, no loose cannon of a two year old to tug at my sleep deprived, fraying nerves.
It’s not the number of kids that makes a new baby hard. It’s the two factor.
The baby is easy. They stay in one spot. My two year old’s movements, however, are unpredictable. Just this week he has scaled the kitchen counter to fetch my sharp knives (I’ve hidden them now.) He’s cracked open eggs. On the carpet. And he’s opened locked doors and fled the premises for no apparent reason. (And I’ll spare you the reams of toilet paper he’s gone through in attempts to learn proper hygiene.)
One minute he’s endearingly soft with the baby and tells me how much he loves her. The next, he’s entirely too rough. This is nothing new. I’ve had a two year old at home with each successive baby. Time will pass, Dean will turn 3 and Jane will grow. We’ll get through this. And besides, Dean is ultra-super-mega cute, articulate, smart and devastatingly charming. I’d be lying if I said his two-ness and it’s accompanying big round eyes don’t still pull at my heart strings.
But another question I get asked a lot is this: So, are you going to have more?? Hmmm??
Honestly, I don’t know…We can talk when Jane’s three.