The past two weeks leading up to the due date of this post have been stressful… to say the least. My children are adorable, sweet babies, but there are two of them under two. When one cries, the other cries for my attention and they have gotten the art of not napping together down perfectly. They light up my world and melt my heart, but sometimes they leave me at my wit’s end. Wit’s. Freaking. End.
There has also been stress from doctors’ appointments (I’m looking at you, colitis, and you, torticollis), my husband’s job, and those beautiful postpartum hormones. I was preparing to write a lighthearted post: a cheeky but honest take on body positivity or an ode to my favorite beverage (don’t worry, those are coming). But while I was on my run today, after a particularly rough morning wherein my husband admitted to being frustrated with our son’s ear piercing and frequent crying, I had the startling realization that I’m not alone.
I wasn’t happy that my husband was feeling frustrated, but I was relieved that I wasn’t the only one of us having a hard time. When I break down to him after a stressful day or, ahem, two weeks, he’s not only there to comfort me, but he understands what I’m going through. He has two children under two, too. And while he isn’t the one home alone with them 50+ hours a week, he does watch them alone when I run or write and edit or go to Judy’s Java Joint for a sweet, strong coffee with no worries of toddler antics or baby wails.
I also remembered on this ridiculously hot but enlightening run, the advice my labor and delivery nurse gave me in the throes of contractions with my son. “Don’t try to fight it. Let them come and just breathe through it.” It surprisingly worked wonders during labor (would have been useful to know with my daughter) and I’ve been trying to apply this advice in life ever since, though I’d forgotten it the last two weeks. It’s not a perfect solution, but it is a good mechanism for trying to re-center, to give myself some extra patience and appreciation for the situation.
All those people who say kids grow so fast are right. This stage goes quickly. I have already noticed it in my daughter. Somehow, she is walking, talking, reciting all the animal sounds, and comprehending so much that my husband and I are amazed every day, while my son is still learning to suck his thumb- and there are only 18 months difference between them. It’s important to appreciate this sweet time, but you don’t have to enjoy every moment; in fact, it drives me crazy to hear that “advice” because it’s not realistic or helpful. How are you supposed to enjoy your one-year-old upending a bowl of rice because, well, you’re not even sure why, while you are circling the dining room table, bouncing your tired son, and chanting “sh sh shhh sh sh shh?”
But in the midst of one child screaming in your ear and the other crying with her little arms wrapped around your leg, while you are on the verge of tears (or, okay, maybe you are already crying), just try to breathe through it. Don’t fight the chaos, because it’s inevitable. When I don’t fight it, I am better at accepting the mess, embracing the tears, and surrendering to Moana pretty much daily. I become less stressed in the moment, even if only marginally, but that’s better than nothing. Because my husband and I, we’re in the thick of it right now and it’s frustrating and it’s hard, but that’s normal and that’s life.
I’m trying again to apply my L&D nurse’s advice as I continue to raise my two babies and I hope that if you find yourself at wit’s freaking end with your munchkins, you are able to do the same. Breathe through it and remember that the hard times are normal and you’re not alone. We’re all there at some point. That’s parenthood and it’s a wild ride.
P.S. Upon reading the rough draft, my sister who is mother to 5-year, 4-year, 2-year, and 5-month old children laughed at what I consider chaos, but admitted that when her oldest two were this age, it was chaos to her as well. So I guess chaos is in the eye of the sleep-deprived mother.