Wednesday, August 07, 2013

On mothering two, versus one...or, Lessons I've Learned

I've found myself sounding like a broken record, of late. I'm pretty sure if we are friends IRL (you know, in-real-life), you've heard either A. about my birth opinions/J's story (which we don't need to rehash on the blog) &/or B. how I feel about the differences between having 1 & 2 kids. 

So here we go.... Kaylene's great insight into motherhood...which is what this blog is about anyways...and it's so funny to look back on old posts--if you're new here, hopefully you read this one before all the old ones...because I'm a lot less neurotic now. Well, sometimes.

You can not teach a woman how to be a mom. Trust me, I have BTTT (been there tried that, for those less acronymly inclined). While pregnant with G, I wanted to know how to be a mom, so I talked to moms around me, I read articles about being a mom, I read books (I read two books. really!), and I read TONS-literally hundreds-of mom message boards/forums about a plethora of topics. It.did.not.matter.
Maybe you've heard, "there's nothing you can do to really prepare you for that first night with your baby." I would argue that's not really true. You can do a lot to prepare...but that's totally different from actually getting your hands dirty. You can't teach that. True motherhood is something you have to experience on your own--to really figure out how to be a mother--because it looks different for all of us. Maybe someone told me that, it certainly didn't register though. I really wanted someone to tell me how to be good at mothering. I thought if only someone would tell me what to do, I would do it, and do it well, and then I'd be on my merry way to find the next task at which to excel.
You see, that's how I am. I get a goal, or a responsibility, and I work super hard to knock their socks off. Who is this someone, this their, this they, this them?? "They" are made up in my head, perhaps your head too.

Being a mother is not a goal, or a responsibility. It's a life path that is simply about the journey. There is never an end...well, there is, but it's pretty finite and let's not think about that, mkay?
There is no 'next task,' so don't look at it as something to be good at and move on, look at it as a daily way of life...caring for your babies. What ever that looks like for you, rock it, but know that there's no one who will come give you a gold star or A+. Do what you do, and do it so that YOU can sleep at night. That is, if your babies will let you. It was never about having the best kid, I just wanted to do the 'right' things for her...but thankfully I've learned that to be the best mom, I have to stop trying to reach the finish line. If I would have started this motherhood thing like I did my marriage, I would have been a lot better off. I look at my marriage like a path to stroll down together, and that's what being a mother is like too. My kids and I, taking this awesome walk. Together.

Being a mom of one, I was a total ball of nerves. I don't know why. And I was totally oblivious to it. People around me knew it, because they even TOLD me I was....but I deflected, because I honestly didn't think I was. I really was just trying to find my way. And that's how we ALL are. There are the natural-mothering-types, to whom being a mother comes naturally, and I actually think I am one of those women, but I had to relax for that to really show. I have a super type-A personality, but children--especially close in age--force you to let go on somethings...or at least they do if you want to have a happy life. So having #2 only 22 months after #1 was exactly what God had planned for my life. My natural mothering instincts were getting overridden by my forceful personality, and having baby J was a much-needed reset.

With G I wanted to control everything...I mean, I did and I didn't. I knew that  I had to let her "be", but...you guys have read my blog (or most of you have anyways) or remember me with her, and I was pretty anal about things, especially her sleep. With J, I wouldn't say I'm completely non-anal, I just know how to manage his sleep schedule without letting it consume my life. And I know that I don't give birth to children who like to sleep...so I gave up trying to force it. I actually gave up trying to force a lot of things. I don't get nearly as flustered as I used to. This too shall pass. Keep that on repeat in your head (that is, if you are looking for advice).

When you only have one baby, there's a LOT of time to think about how you are screwing them up, how you can do it better, and how other people are doing it better (or worse). When you have two (or more), there's substantially less time to do that...so you are lucky because your life is fuller and more complete with real-life activities. This is not to say those with only one child have an incomplete life, I'm simply saying there's more time to obsess.

As you recall, this blog used to be a lot more active. I had my reviews to give me something to do and feel productive (or over-stretched!), I wrote about my opinions on mothering (many of which I still believe in, but don't obsess over), and I shared miniscule details of my adorable baby girl's life (that are fun to go back and read, but also aren't all that noteworthy). But then baby J happened. and I got busy living life. THE LIFE. The one I thought having kids would be all about. Ladies and Gents, we have arrived. Come visit our house and you will find a real family lives here. Not one trying to maintain some TV show pedestal, or some parenting book model.

When I only had one baby, I thought...man this is so hard...how could I do it with more? How do bigger families manage? I may only have two now, but I totally know....they let the little things slide. They roll with the tides.

I have learned that it is okay if J chews on a toy that isn't specifically a "chew toy" (I mean, as long as it's not digestible-like paper-, or covered in dirt or something, it's fine, right?). I've learned it's okay that he's army crawling on the kitchen floor, even if it's been more than a day since I last mopped it (oh the travesty!). I've learned that even though he's "supposed" to take two naps today, it's okay if I pushed him off a little bit so that he takes one (fingers crossed) longer, better-suited-to-my-schedule, nap while G naps too. It's okay if I reuse a bib from breakfast at lunch (so long as it's not gross, I mean, I do still have my above-average clean standards). I've learned that he can slobber on his clothes a little bit and not have to change it right away (type A is something I'll never be able to get away from). I've learned that he can cry, or whine, or fuss, way more than I ever let G...and I thought I let her do that a lot...haha--nope.

My favorite thing I've learned? I can take two crazy kids to the store, with hardly anything, and be totally fine. I do not need to pack for deathcon5. I can take them to the park, J in the Beco and still be able to lift G up into the swing. I can take them grocery shopping, while one attempts to jump to his death from the cart-seat, and the other zoom-zooms her way around with the kid-cart, oblivious to the can of beans she just knocked over (actually, I added that for dramatic effect, G has the keenest attention to detail ever). I am, in fact, super woman, and haven't you heard--I'm freaking awesome at this mothering thing. If you don't think so, there's the door...because you know what? I think you're freaking awesome at this mothering thing too.

Recently, rather, constantly, we hear about this "mommy war" shiz...or parental-judgement...or whatevs.
I think it's a crock, and apparently a lot of you do too, because a big parent magazine did a nationwide survey and found that while parents believe the mommy-war exists, they don't feel it in their day-to-day life. And I couldn't agree more. I really think that social media, the internet, and news articles perpetuate this balloon of judgement. There is, as I've always maintained, a parent-information-overload. I don't interact with women who judge me, and I don't judge them. Sure we do things differently, and maybe I don't agree with everything they do...but I don't sit there and tell them they shouldn't do it that way.... I don't have their kid, or their life, and how could I possibly presume to know what they should do? I think tons of moms feel this way, and that's why this whole mommy-judgement thing is a crock. Sure there are a lot of people out there judging other people, there always have been and there always will, but as with anything--get away from them. And take it from me.....life is not all about the type of mother you are...life is about the little people that made you mothers to begin with. Take a deep breath, remember this could all be gone in an instant, and live a little.

As I say to my husband...."We've gotta live OUR life, ya know?"

We have tons of fun. Learning happens through play, real-world activities like errand running or play dates, and being a stay at home mom really allows me to foster an environment of success for our kids. We are truly blessed and judgement has no place in our life. I'm so much more relaxed as a parent and person. I credit my husband for being the ying to my yang, and I credit my kids for reminding me just how awesome the tickle monster is. We love hanging out with other families or couples, because we hope to be a good example of balance as a Catholic Family.

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