Life With Two
Before I had my son in May, I wondered what it would be like to have two children. My anxiety got the best of me, and I was scared. I asked both my online and real life friends what multiples were like and from each of them, I got some rendition of the same advice: you always make it work.
Straight from the beginning, I couldn’t grasp the “you always make it work” concept. I struggled with it in more ways than one, time being a major one. Time is such an invaluable resource that always seems in demand and overextended. No matter how many responsibilities I have—work, school, house duties, etc.—there are still only 24 hours in a day. I think back to how stretched thin I felt with one child, school full time, not even including homework and numerous papers (basically, my job), keeping her entertained every evening, every weekend, and every break from school, PLUS all of the house duties. What was I thinking having another one? How would I have the time?
Time is on my mind at the start of each day. Each morning, I gulp down a cup of scalding hot coffee, then attempt to savor the second because, yes, the baby is still sleeping. Five to ten minutes later, I’m thinking “so much for that,” because I now hear him stirring and the second cup gets cold before I’m even four sips in. I often forget or am too busy—wiping up spit-up, nursing, changing diapers and onesies, nursing again, calming a meltdown—to unload the dishwasher of its clean dishes, so the dirty ones begin to accumulate on the counter or in the sink. I fold laundry, leave it on the couch, and I’ve washed and folded another load before I realize that the first one still hasn’t been put away. We are out of milk and fresh veggies, so I have to run to the grocery store today. Before you know it, the school bus is back in front of my house dropping off my eldest, and I’m now trying to keep this overly energetic seven-year-old little girl entertained and out of trouble, while simultaneously tending to the four-month-old who needs me for everything, prepping and cooking dinner, and overseeing homework. Now the big kid wants me to help her do something she is capable of doing on her own. I know it, because she has done it before a zillion times. This is one of those days where the fussing of my baby is too much (is this a leap or a growth spurt?!), the sass from my second grader is too strong. I tell her I don’t have time for this. It could be that I’m not yet in the swing of things. Maybe I never will be. Either way, sometimes I’m struggling to get it all done. There’s never enough time.
Not enough time…one of the things about now having two.
What about love? When I love, I love wholeheartedly. When I only had my daughter to love, it was easy. My way of showing love is by showing affection and attention. Before, I could give her all of that, because all my time could be devoted to her (we’re back to time again). To love two children, would my heart have to split in two? Would they each get half of my love and half of my time? What about their dad? What part of my heart could I love him with? Would he have to take a backseat to the kids? How in the hell did people with more than two kids manage to love them all the same?
Time and love aren’t all. There are other things about having two, like two times the clothes to buy, two times tough decisions to make, two times the mouths to feed, and two times cars and college tuition (that is, if our kids decide that’s the route they wish to take).
There’s also two times the kisses and band-aids to heal the boo boos. Two times the heartache. Two times having to hear about broken pinky promises on the playground. Two times standing up to bullies. Two times dating and making new friends. Two times having to hug and wipe away the tears because growing up is such a mixture of emotions that these tiny people have to learn to cope with as they begin to navigate the world on their own. Two times having to explain bad words they’ve heard or bad images they have seen. Two times having to scare away monsters that aren’t real and protect them from the ones that really are that they don’t yet know about. Two times crying stifled cries in the shower because this world sucks and now I have not only one, but two children being raised in it.
Then, there’s two times the giggles, tickles, and innocent joy. Two times the pride when I’m told how good of a reader, how respectful, how sweet, how selfless and compassionate my children are. Two times the cuddles and tucking in at night. Two times the peaking in to make sure they’re still okay. Two times the “I love yous,” hugs, kisses, and homemade Mothers’ Day cards. Two times the beauty.
Some things are better in twos.
Four months later, I am willing to admit that some days I am barely making it work in this life with two, but I have learned that my online and real life friends were right. You do make it work, even if everything is all hanging by the thread of a spider’s web. All of the housework can get done when it gets done. This moment will be gone, but the dishes will still be there. So will the laundry and anything else that needs to be done. My kids need me now. Time won’t wait and they’ll only be the age they are right now for just this moment. As for love, my heart continues to grow, stretch, and contort itself to love all of my children, their dad, my family, my friends. Every day I learn. Every day I give it my all. It isn’t as scary as I thought it would be.
This is my life with two. I’m making it work.