I am a mommy ROCKSTAR.
Those were the words I thought to myself four weeks after my second child was born.
I had just come up with this genius way to play with my first child even while I breastfed my newborn around the clock. As I nursed my baby, my then 2-year-old would play with his cars on the floor in front of us and I would narrate the action like a broadcaster.
“The blue car and the red car are lining up to race. Now they are revving their engines. Who is going to win this epic battle? And they’re off! Look, the blue car is taking the lead!”
He would squeal with delight as I reported every detail of his play aloud. He didn’t feel neglected in the least; indeed, I was probably paying more attention to him and his play than I had before his little sister joined the family.
I am a mommy ROCKSTAR. Look at me, transitioning to two children with such ease!
With ease, indeed.
You see, looking back on those first few weeks and months, I realize how far from the long-term reality they actually were.
I wasn’t back to work yet, so the extra exhaustion that came from multiple middle-of-the-night feedings was manageable, even with a preschooler to attend to during the day. I didn’t have to look presentable or speak intelligently on any kind of regular basis.
And while it was true that I was sleeping less than ever, there was still some of that new-baby adrenaline pumping through my veins and powering me through.
Look at her, she’s so cute! I think she just half-smiled/grabbed my finger/hiccuped/did something else for the very first time! Grab the camera!
Who needs sleep with that kind of excitement going on?
Big brother was pretty excited too. Those first few weeks, he was still so fascinated with this new life form in our house—the one we had been talking about and preparing for for months now—that he was hardly bothered by any loss of the spotlight.
So here’s the surprising truth about the transition to two kids, the unexpected reality that is punching me in the gut at this very moment.
It gets HARDER.
I suppose I should have realized this, but I didn’t. I (wrongfully) assumed that the first few days, weeks, and months of transitioning from one child to two would rock our worlds, and then it would all calm down. I figured the beginning of the transition would be the toughest by far.
That has not been the case. At all.
Why? Well, my baby—who is transitioning to toddlerhood as I type—is on the verge of walking, makes a beeline for the stairs the moment she thinks you’re not looking, and believes baby toys are a waste of time (she’d much rather try to rip her big brother’s toys right out of his hands).
When she’s not getting into something she shouldn’t, she’s demanding my attention in the form of play, which, it turns out, is way more difficult to do while also attending to my first child or to my to-do list.
(Multi-tasking while nursing was way easier!)
What’s more, from my son’s perspective, the shiny newness of his baby sister’s presence has faded a bit.
Don’t get me wrong, he loves her to pieces—and the expressions of that love are to melt for!—but he also finds her bothersome and annoying a lot of the time because she insists on knocking over his towers or taking apart his puzzles the way babies do.
So when my first child whines for me to “please get her!” (meaning please remove his baby sister from his presence immediately so he can play in peace), when she grabs his cup and begins pouring his juice all over the carpet, when they both want to play with the ride-on Thomas the Train at the exact same time—these are the moments I realize I used to have it so darn easy.
Before the baby could roll over.
Before she could crawl at lightning speed, scale the stairs in the blink of an eye, and pull herself up onto every single piece of furniture in the house.
Before she could play with toys, and subsequently realize the ones that aren’t for her because they’re choking hazards are the BEST ONES (obviously).
Before my first child grew weary of hearing me say, “In a minute, buddy, I need to take care of the baby first.”
Yes, it is so much harder now. But you know what? It’s also so much more beautiful.
Because now on the rare occasion she’s not “messing things up,” they’re actually starting to play together.
Because now at lunchtime my older child rips off tiny pieces of his grilled cheese to share with his little sister. “Would you like to try a bite of my sandwich?” he asks sweetly.
Because now when he gives her a kiss, she can kiss him back.
I don’t know how their sibling relationship will develop down the line.
This might be just the tip of the iceberg. It might get infinitely harder the older they get. It might get easier in some ways too.
All I know for sure is that I’m going to blink and it will be different.
So I will try my best to savor the craziness of having both a preschooler and an almost-toddler. Yes, it’s infinitely harder than when I had a newborn—in ways I should have expected but still took me totally by surprise—but it’s also infinitely more rewarding.