Becoming a mother was one of the most wonderful and difficult things that’s ever happened to me. Everything I’d ever perceived as challenging up and until the moment I first held my daughter was nothing compared to how heavy being a first-time parent was. Not only were the physical demands of having a newborn exhausting, but also the mental and emotional hardships of knowing that life was no longer just about me and my needs was crushing at times. I was now completely responsible for another human being, one who was so incredibly dependant on me, that there were moments when I wished I could reverse time and go back to the “easy” days of pregnancy.
Now that I have three kids, I can look back on those first days as a mom and see just how simple it actually was! Going from two kids to three wasn’t so bad, but going from one kid to two was absolutely terrifying. Luckily for me, my first and second daughters were spaced almost four years apart. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to have two kids close together in age. Also to my advantage was that my second daughter was a super easy baby. She practically slept her entire first year!
The thing about having two kids is that you don’t get to have those precious one-on-one moments with your second child. When my first daughter was a baby, and for several years afterward, it was just the two of us. We would sleep late, go shopping, take a nap together, drive around (the car made her calm), snuggle up at bedtime, etc. Then we’d wake up and do it all over again the next day.
There’s a sacredness to the relationship you have with your first child. When the second one comes around, life gets a lot more practical. No longer you can laze away your days watching cartoons together or meeting grandma for lunch. Now there were two kids to wrangle and things became a lot more complicated.
The first major issue I had when my second daughter was born was the fact that my first daughter was very jealous of her. Jealous of the time that I now how to give to another kid. Jealous of the fact that I could no longer bend to the unstructured schedule we had before. Just so you know, jealousy is the kid version of resentment. And man did my first-born resent me. At 15-years-old, she’s still mad at me for procreating two more times after she was born. On particularly hard days, she’s say, “See? You should have stopped after you had me. Remember how easy life was before you had three kids?” Teenagers…
The second issue with two kids is managing two different schedules. As I mentioned before, baby number two loved to sleep, so that was good. But sometimes she slept too much and we couldn’t leave the house until she woke up. This was hard adjustment for me as a free-wheeling, wild-hearted person who likes to fly by the seat of my pants. I often felt like I was being grounded and sometimes even imprisoned in my own home. At some point, I would just come and go as I pleased and decided my second daughter would have to adjust to my schedule instead of the other way around. But, I didn’t do that until around her first birthday, so that first year with two kids was particularly tough.
The third major issue of going from one kid to two is how much it affects your marriage. When there’s only one baby, chances are that either you or your husband is fairly rested at all times. With two kids, you each kind of get assigned to one. My husband and oldest daughter spent a lot of time together after my second daughter was born. They would go on hikes and spend days shopping so I could be alone with my (very sleepy) second baby. I would take that time to clean and rest and sometimes I felt dread when my husband and oldest daughter would return from their adventures. Inevitably they would want my attention then and I simply had no energy left at the end of the day. My husband and I were pretty distant in those early days.
The good news is that my spouse did have to pitch in more, so even though we couldn’t be together as much as we wanted to physically, we grew closer in a way because of how much effort we saw each other putting into this whole parenting gig. A new admiration and respect bloomed in our marriage and that was the glue that temporarily held us together while our private time suffered.
In the end, kids get older and things get so much easier. They occupy their own time and everyone falls into a routine. As I said before, we went on to have yet another daughter, so apparently going from one to two kids didn’t really traumatize us too much. Adding another kid didn’t change the existing dynamic a whole lot and then I had two little helpers who would fetch diapers and entertain the baby for me when she was fussy.
I would never discourage anyone from moving past the only child phase. Yes, it’s hard as hell to adjust to two kids after only having one, but it’s entirely worth it. My kids still fight all the time, but I hope know that one day, they’ll be the very best of friends. I just know it (sarcasm font)!!
So, if you have any hesitation about putting another bun in the ol’ oven…don’t! Just be mentally prepared for how life-changing another kid will be. Talk to friends who already have multiple kids and get their insight and input on how to adjust when your time comes and you’ll be just fine. I promise! And if you aren’t, just remember that this too shall pass…faster than you could ever imagine. Like anything else in life, just take it one day at a time.