“Looks like you should have been more careful what you asked for.”
I looked at the woman with an obviously confused look on my face because she felt the need to clarify that I got exactly what I asked for in my two kids under the age of 9 months. What I wanted to say to her was mind your own business, but said something more along the lines of, “After what I went through to finally get these two, I’d have taken twice this.” And it’s true. I did get what I asked for. Kids. But what it took was a long time, some tears, a whole lot of pain, and finally the reward.
Being a mother takes skills of all kinds but I never realized that juggling would be one of them. Toss a baby or two in the air. Give them company in the form of naps, baths and feedings. Don’t forget your other duties of cooking, cleaning and that never-ending pile of laundry. Didn’t you once have hobbies? Working out, reading, or whatever your gig was? When it all comes raining down, what will you be able to catch?
I have learned that mothers dread having their kids too close together. Not because it was my dread but because women seem to openly share their thoughts on my situation. Either they fear the insanity of it or they fear the inability to catch the right things when they are coming down. It is a balancing act with one or twelve, old or young, and I’m not sure they understand that.
Recently, I was chatting it up with a couple of women. The first was a couple of months ago and the lady I was visiting with was due just behind me and our bellies were showing and we were doing our best to be radiant and look brilliant. I’m sure we leaned more to the side of tired than radiant, but we tried. We stood watching her little guy while my daughter was with daddy when suddenly she spouted, with tears in her eyes, “I just don’t know how I’ll do it when I have a newborn and an 18 month old who wants so much attention.” And from there she heaped her fears out in front of us and tossed in a couple insecurities just to be safe.
A couple months later, with less of a belly and two babes, I visited with a woman who had a 20 month old and a one month old. Our babies had only entered the world a few days apart and I asked her how she was doing. In about 30 seconds, I learned she had yet to be alone with her two children. For a month she had the constant companionship of her husband, mother, mother-in-law, or some sibling. She’d been living in a fantasy world for a month where she didn’t have to do anything for two kids and was quickly going to have to face life with two kids alone in an apartment because she was going home. You could smell the fear. Me, I never came up. I didn’t mind. I wouldn’t have known what to say to her anyways.
Both times I went home to dump on my husband the annoyance I felt at being used as a dumping ground. Yes, I said the right things at the time and reassured these mothers, but I didn’t get why they were looking for comfort from a woman who has (or was going to have) a newborn and a seven month old. What could I say to them? I didn’t fear the same way they did but I also didn’t feel that it was my place to comfort them with soft words when I wasn’t going to have the gift of having my kids 18-20 months apart and I wasn’t complaining about it.
Accompany those talks with women who see and comment on what I have for company each and every day of my life and they balk at my ability to stay sane. Mostly I get asked, “How are you doing?” with an inflection that hints that I should be breaking down into tears and confessing that I just can’t handle it. They are shocked to hear that not only does my husband come home to a wife and two kids every day (yes, he does a head count) but that we are having fun. My husband was back at work shortly after the birth of our son and I never had someone other than him enter the house to help out. I pack up two kids and go to the park, walk a half hour to and from the local library, go to the mall or the zoo, and even go out to visit a friend.
There are days I hold two babies who both want and need the loves. It is true that things don’t always go smoothly. But when I toss two babies into the air, baths, reading stories, cooking and cleaning, and the other good things that come with my life, I’ve been able to catch the important things. Two babies. At times, other things get dropped only to be picked up, dusted off, and thrown back up in the air. But I’ve learned I am capable, if for no other reason than because I believe I am.