We had a rough morning around here yesterday. Not serious, big deal kind of rough. Just the everyday, run of the mill rough of taking care of two babies under two.
We’ve had a lot of these hard moments lately, because R has been back at work and since Christmas has only been off one full day, hard because as anyone on the East Coast can relate to, it’s been brutally cold, single digit cold, far too cold to go outside with babies.
And I think yesterday it all just came to a head, this long week of R working and me being solo with both kids, and a long week of being stuck inside all day every day. This post Christmas period is always hard, and this year it feels even harder because of this relentless cold weather. I don’t think I realized just how much harder it is to have a baby in winter, when you can’t just get out for a walk whenever you feel like it. You can feel like a hostage inside your own house, and your hostage taker just happens to be 3 feet tall and wear diapers.
I wanted to share our rough morning because at least for me I need to hear stories of other parents who sometimes really struggle with parenting, who love their kids but sometimes want to hide in the closet with a bottle of wine and a block of cheese to get away from them.
I follow a lot of blogs that make parenting look glossy and beautiful 100% of the time, and I love those blogs because it’s nice to see that side of life, the side that’s always cute and photogenic and Instagram worthy. But anyone who is a parent knows that more often life with kids is messy and tear and snot streaked and littered with crumbs and sticky fibers.
Nothing particularly hard even happened. It was just one of those days I could tell my daughter would be cranky just from the sounds she made when she woke up. And she was cranky and demanding and fussy as I tried to change her and make her breakfast while also changing and nursing Bobby. We got through the early morning with a viewing of Sing (yes I have a dependence on Netflix movies to get through these long days, anyone who judges has clearly never been stuck inside for over a week with a toddler and infant). But then the wheels started to come off.
Ryland wanted something, but as frequently happens due to her lack of language skills, it was like playing charades with an angry drunk. I didn’t get what she wanted and she only got more and more frustrated with me. I could see the tantrum growing like a storm gaining strength and I tried to head it off. I got down on the floor to play puzzles. She threw the puzzle pieces across the room. I took her upstairs to color and she threw the crayons across the room (sensing a theme here?). All the while her steady whining turned into red faced tears.
At this point Bobby also started to get restless and fuss because that’s what 7 week olds periodically do. And as I tried to settle him, Ryland’s tantrum just escalated. I tried to pick her up, to give her water, to console her but she just flailed and cried harder. I could feel my own frustrations grow. I wanted to yell back, to run away, to punt one of her stuffed animals across the room.
But instead I did what I felt was the more adult response. I picked up my mess of a daughter, carried her into her room, put her down, left, and closed the door.
There was a long, almost surprised pause as she drew breath before unleashing the beast. I walked away as she screamed and threw herself at the door. I sat down and pulled up her video monitor to make sure she was safe and watched an epic fit of toddler rage.
For a moment I wanted to laugh because she was so absurdly angry about literally nothing. But just as quickly I could feel my own hot tears come, because I was so tired of dealing with tantrum after tantrum alone, because we had been stuck inside for days and I knew she was bored and frustrated and I couldn’t make that better, because I couldn’t understand what my daughter wanted or what was wrong, because to deal with her I had to let Bobby cry, because I couldn’t just fix it, because I was sick of diapers and the endless cycle of cleaning and feeding and picking up every new mess. I cried because it was 10am and I was already totally exhausted.
I felt a surge of guilt, which only made it worse, and I walked into her room and picked her up. I sat down with her and felt her little back rise and fall with sobs, brushed sweaty hair off her forehead. And I cried with her and felt totally silly and ridiculous, but we had just both reached our limit.
We got ourselves together. I made Ryland some lunch pancakes and she calmed down. I calmed down and laughed at myself for losing it over something so routine.
I love my kids and I love this life. I wouldn’t choose another. And so many people deal with so much harder (parents of multiples I salute you). I knew having two kids so close in age would be hard in the beginning, and it is. My kids are just over a year and a half apart. They’re both babies. One just happens to be a fully mobile baby capable of rage and mood swings and demanding of mama’s attention about 95% of the time. And so it’s hard.
Most days we do pretty well. Some days we even get everyone dressed and bathed and fed home cooked meals instead of eating fruit and veggie pouches for dinner. But sometimes we don’t do as well. Some days we melt down. Sometimes I feel terrible because I can never be 100% mom to either kid. Im always splitting my attention now. One kid sometimes has to cry while I deal with the other. It’s just unavoidable. And it causes me an enormous amount of mom guilt, particularly with Ryland, because for 19 months I was able to give her 100% of me. And I feel even guiltier knowing Bobby won’t ever get any of that undivided version of me, the mom who can hold and snuggle him for hours on end.
We’re all still adjusting to this new world order.
And most days we do it a little more gracefully and with fewer tears. Most days we even manage one or two of those glossy, Instagram worthy moments, where everyone is behaving and happy and not hurling objects across the room.
But some days we melt down. That’s life with two babies. Heck that’s life with one baby. That’s life period, imperfect. And I think it’s important to share that too, because life without it’s flaws and ugly moments is just a carbon copy. I prefer the real thing.