Two kids. I actually have two kids. There are days, even six months later, that I still whisper these words to myself in disbelief. I'm not sure what it is about the second time around, but things still often feel both completely surreal and exactly as they were meant to be.
Before Cora was born, I wondered what it would be like—this huge leap from one child to two. The concept of actually being a mom of two seemed almost unreal for the longest time, and I think there are still moments when I look at my youngest and she looks back at me with her pensive little expression and I think, How are you even real? It's one of those cliche moments when you feel like the child in front of you is someone you've known forever, but you know you've hardly gotten to know them yet at all.
The first six months as a mom of two have been a fairly even mix of simple and struggle. There are days I transition from one extreme to the other several times over. A rough morning with Eisley, easy naps for Cora, a short fuse with myself, a meltdown from Eisley, time outs, sweet moments, feeling invisible, feeling invincible, cleaning the apartment (for the fourth time) with a frown, doing dishes (for the fourth time) with a smile, a screaming baby, a delightful four year old, a serene baby, a defiant four year old, highs, lows, everything in between…all within the span of twenty-four hours.
Yes, this is my new normal.
I've come to realize that I've never in my entire life been so non-stop busy. Which has been one of the most difficult aspects of having multiple children, to be honest. I'm an introvert, a homebody, someone who thrives when there is at least a bit of blank space within each day. But for now, I've surprised myself with my adaptability. Almost every moment of every day is filled with something essential: caring for a baby or child, cleaning or tending to the apartment, cooking, cleaning, breastfeeding, meal planning, list-making, grocery shopping, scrubbing soiled onesies that would terrify even the most seasoned parent, playing make-believe (or "Albertsons" or "Costco Samples" or "Library" or one of the many activities Eisley currently begs me to do with her), reading books, changing diapers, giving baths, doing endless dishes, waking every couple hours at night to tend to a baby who doesn't seem to love sleep as much as her mama…
Yes, it makes me feel better to list these things out sometimes. Because as busy as I know I am, there's still a part of me that struggles to feel like I'm doing enough. Silly, but true. There are evenings when I sit by myself for a few minutes and wonder why I'm so exhausted. But I didn't even DO anything. I have to catch myself and realize that, hey, I kind of did everything. Even if it wasn't big or exciting or out-of-the-ordinary. I did everything.
Sometimes I think of the days before children when I'd hear how busy early motherhood is, and I'd find it ridiculous when someone would imply that there are seasons of motherhood when it's difficult to find time to even take a shower. I mean, who doesn't have time to take a shower? Who are these women?
Me. I am that woman. Hi, there! It's a little ridiculous and embarrassing and sometimes I question my excessive use of dry shampoo. (God bless dry shampoo.)
But along with the whirlwind of my busy days, there are so many good things. Seeing my girls play together. Seeing Eisley thrive as an older sister. Seeing all these things in Cora that are sometimes so similar to her sister, and sometimes so different. Watching Jay love another little baby so perfectly. Seeing those little reminders that I'm a good mom. And remembering that isn't up to me to be a perfect mom.
And one of the biggest lessons I've learned in the past six months is that I simply have to let some things go. Right now, in this moment, during this season of life, for this year (and possibly the next, and the next after that), there will always be a mess I wish I could clean up, there will often be nights with little sleep, my routine will shift and change more times than I'm comfortable with, and there will rarely be time for me to chase after all the little hopes and dreams I have tucked away in my own heart.
For now. For now. For now.
I don't have to do it all now, and I'm learning to let that expectation go. I have to constantly remind myself: There's going to be time for everything else. Someday. I don't have to do it all now.
Motherhood is the most humbling, refining, challenging, and beautiful thing in the world. As much as I knew those things after my first child, having a second child has made these truths one hundred times more clear. I have so many stories and struggles and wonderful moments that have filled these past six months, and it has all gone by just as quickly as they said it would.
If only there were more hours in the day to just sit down and write it all down. Or, you know, to sleep. (I'd probably take the sleep, to be perfectly honest. Please let me sleep.)
Still, things are good. So much better than good—even on the difficult days, I absolutely know what a huge gift I've been given. I feel like a big mess of a human being sometimes, and completely unqualified for this job, but this is who I am and where I'm at and what I've been given, so…on it goes.