“I recently visited a family with a newborn. A newborn and a toddler. Both parents looked like zombies who had smoked too much, you know what I’m saying? They were exhausted and sitting there zoned out. And I know that exhaustion all too well.
When I brought Sofia home with Luca, I was so tired I fell asleep sitting up mid conversation. Being tired made me snappy. I found myself being angry with my toddler, Luca, because I needed him to play quietly and give me the chance to tend to a demanding newborn.
I wanted him to grow up and be independent already, I wanted him to feed himself and not rely on me to help. I wondered what the hell had I done when I was feeding my toddler his breakfast and nursing a newborn. 19 months apart. How could I possibly do this?
I found myself upset at my new baby because she needed to feed when the toddler needed comfort, so then I was so harsh on Luca, constantly telling him to ‘shhh.’ I felt so guilty but I kept doing it. I remember sitting on the couch with both of them crying and then I called my husband howling admitting that it was too hard.
I worried all the time, am I loving one more than the other? Am I disadvantaging the toddler by not giving him attention?
Am I hindering the newborn’s development because it’s impossible to leave them alone on the floor with my crazy toddler?
I saw this with those new parents. The edginess of not being able to sleep, the pressure of having a newborn. The want to enjoy that stage knowing it goes too fast but also tending to the needs of a toddler who is even more desperate for attention knowing they had to share it.
Looking at it I see now how I survived it. (Pfft I haven’t survived anything but you know what I mean)… How I coped? I stopped beating myself up so much. I stopped saying I was a bad mother. That I couldn’t possibly do it all. I couldn’t possibly be two people at once, two places, two totally different demands… but I could do my best. And I did. I let the toddler make noise and mess when feeding himself and he learned how to feed himself like a pro. I let the newborn be on the floor and the toddler didn’t even care when she was there. I taught them both that they cannot be the center of my universe, that they need to learn the art of patience, that their demands can’t always be met quickly if I’m caring for the other. That I love them both the same and they both are just as important as each other… and that noise won’t kill either of them (they sleep through each other’s night time cries).
It’s hard… it’s really hard. But going through it with unnecessary guilt is much worse. So don’t. You’re doing a great job. You’re one person and they’ll be fine. They’ll love each other like no other and you’ll love and you do love both of them, equally. (Both are jerks equally 😉) and they know it, they do.
Now remind me of this when baby number three comes, please?”
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