February 28, 2014

Parenting of Two & Mommy Guilt

A good friend of mine wrote a very honest post today about her fears of life after having a second child. I could have written her entire post myself at that time during my pregnancy and those fears are still very fresh in my mind. We are only six weeks into this thing, after all. And it got me thinking -- I haven't had much time to write lately because, well, LIFE. But it struck a chord with me and I needed to get some thoughts and emotions down, not only for her, but for myself, too.

I will admit that I have been very vocal about how difficult adjusting to two (especially two UNDER two!) has been. Not necessarily here, but in other places (hi, twitter!) and to other people. It was a rough go at first, this whole parenting of two thing. Maybe things would have been different had the things that happened not, you know, actually  happened. But they did, and a new baby, a toddler, a hospital visit, a family death -- it adds up. Especially while you're trying to figure out your new routine & dealing with those pesky post-partum hormones. The fact that I made it through that first month alive is a friggin' miracle, people. Truth be told, I'm not quite sure how I managed that.

I'm not going to lie and say that it has gotten easier, because at this point it really hasn't. Those first couple of weeks were the hardest, and I have had more than my fair share of guilt through all of it up to this point.  There are days where I don't feel like I spend enough time with Lucas, or give him enough snuggles, or engage with him the way that I want to. The TV has been on more than I care to admit, just so that we can get through the day. There are also times when I feel awful for putting Max down in the swing or pack & play immediately after feeding him. And then leaving him there for a couple of hours while he sleeps. He's my last baby, and I should be holding him more & taking advantage of these fleeting moments, but I don't always.

Figuring out how to balance the needs of a newborn while also spending quality time with my nearly two year old has been a challenge, one that I haven't quite mastered yet. I go to bed some nights angry at myself for being so short tempered that day, or a little too distant with both my boys. For snapping one too many times. For grabbing Lucas away from something he shouldn't be in a little too hard. For leaving Max in the pack and play for three hours during his nap and just sitting on the couch. For letting him cry longer than I EVER would have let Lucas cry because I'm dealing with other things and can't quite get to him THAT SECOND. These thing, they hurt my heart. Honestly. Most days end with me feeling like a total failure at life and motherhood (let's not even discuss as a wife, because I'm pretty sure I'm failing on an even bigger front there) & every night I vow to be better when I wake up. Sometimes I am. Most times I am not. This adjustment is hard, and every single day I go into it with no clue as to how we are going to do it. I just know that it WILL happen, and through hell or high water, we will make it through the day. Whether my sanity is in tact or not is another question, but we do it the best we can.

But that's just it -- I'm doing the best that I can. I am not very good at reminding myself of this but every once in a while I sneak it in there, when I'm having a particularly rough day. My boys? They don't love me any less because I'm not crafting together some expertly planned at-home curriculum. In fact, I'm sure Lucas loves me a little more because he's gotten to watch Bubble Guppies for the 50th time today. He doesn't mind playing with the same cars over and over. And even though he is upset if I yell or snap at him, there are always hugs minutes later and we are back to life as normal. All is forgotten and we laugh, giggle, play ... whatever we need to do. Despite my shortcomings as a mother with him, he continues to lavish me with hugs and kisses on a daily basis. The snuggles that I lack with Max during the day, I make up at night after our late-night feedings, often sacrificing sleep to get the quite alone-time and snuggles that we missed during the day. Even through the bad moments, the ones that come after them more than make up for the guilt that I feel.

I am far from perfect, and in my head, the bad-mom moments far outweigh the good-mom moments. But this is still so new. And hard. It is what it is, however, and despite venting my frustrations from time to time, I wouldn't trade it for anything. We figure it out, we change when things don't work, and even though I tell myself that I am doing my best, I still go to bed feeling bad. But it's not forever, and I know that eventually, we will get into a good routine. Someday the boys will grow up and not need me. Right now? They need me. So we keep at it. All those fears that I had before having Max (the fears that my friend is having right now) are all still there, and I live them every day. I wish I could say that there was some magic button that made all those fears go away after giving birth, but in actuality they were probably intensified. But we wade through them, attempting to make the best of it. I am not very good at forgiving myself for the bad days, but deep down I know that the boys won't remember these moments like I will, so I keep doing my best, telling myself to just keep swimming, and working on bettering the moments that we have together. Because really, what else can I do? At the end of the day, no matter how awful I feel about what happened during waking hours, it is still amazing that I am the mother to these two wonderful kids. It's a balancing act, one that I am still working on mastering.

In the end, we are healthy & happy, and that's all that really matters. Mommy failures or not.


chambanachik said...

Just want you to know that I'm right there with you. Every single day, I feel like I have failed. Being a mom is so much harder than I ever could have imagined.

Heather said...

Just want you to know you are not alone, even though I only have one, it is very hard to be a mom and I think you are handling things the best way you can, with two young ones it must be so difficult. One of the things that helps me is remembering something I read, that a baby has a worse reaction if you let them cry longer than 90 seconds, so I let myself count to quickly finish my task and make sure it is as quick as possible and under 90 s, so I don't feel so bad in a slow response! I'm sure that's not good either but anyway...

Ashleigh Talk said...

It hurts my heart for you to say that you have "bad-mom" moments. The simple fact that you keep the best interests of the boys as your number one priority makes you a Good-Mom. Always. You can drive yourself nuts by thinking of all of the things you did wrong in a day -and then probably fill up a notebook by the time they are ten- but in the end a Mom is a woman made up of good-mom and bad-mom moments and is a woman who is REAL- and that's what the boys will appreciate most. Their down-to-earth Mom who loves them always and makes mistakes and therefore can accept their mistakes. You are an awesome Mother, thank you for sharing those deep feelings that a lot of us mothers have a hard time admitting.. :)