Remember that Luv’s Diapers commercial where “2nd kid, every mom is an expert?”
When Chloe was a baby, if we were leaving the house, her diaper bag became an arsenal of every possible thing we could need; whether it be a grocery store run or preparations for the zombie apocalypse, we were ready. I had everything from diapers to wipes to paci wipes to lotion to hand sanitizer to water bottles to blankies to burp cloths. Anything you can imagine was in my diaper bag. With Ryan, I throw a diaper in my purse, and we are out the door.
It’s a funny thing how much more relaxed you are with the second kid.
We initially thought that our newborn would be the tougher to handle, the more difficult of the two kids. We quickly discovered how wrong we were. Remember, newborns sleep an average of 16 hours/day. Newborns are easy to drag around in a carseat. You can easily plop a newborn down in bouncy seat, or wrap in a Moby, and get dinner on the table. Our two year old, however, is an energizer bunny combo Tasmanian devil. She. Does. Not. Stop. Moving.
And the terrible twos are real. It is an intense and heartbreaking time. I feel like I am walking on eggshells around my kid – you never know what might set her off, when she might snap. Maybe you poured the apple juice into the wrong cup; lets scream for 20 minutes. Maybe I refused to rub oatmeal in my hands; lets hit mommy and throw things.
Now, we all know just how EXCELLENT maternity leave in this country is. I love my job. The thought of not working never really crossed my mind. And I’ve actually found that I am a better mother when I am working. But with the job that I love comes 60 work days of unpaid maternity leave. If I do not return to work after those 60 work days, I lose my beloved job. Wah Wah.
If I’m going to be home for three months with the baby, wouldn’t I also want to keep my daughter home with me as well? Three months is not a very long time when we are thinking about a lifetime. Am I a horrible mom for preferring to continue to send her to daycare so I don’t have to deal with the Tasmanian devil while nursing Ryan? Doesn’t it make sense to keep her home for 3 months and save quite a bit of money?
We decided it was best to continue to send Chloe to daycare for many reasons. First, I need time to bond with Ryan. I was lucky enough to have almost a year home with Chloe before I decided to go back to work. It was wonderful. I learned what to do to make her smile, what every cry meant, I knew exactly what she needed. She became my whole world – the air I breathed. I also need this time, uninterrupted, with my son. I need to learn him inside and out.
I do find solo time for Chloe when I can. I’ll pick her up from daycare sans Ryan, and take her to Starbucks for a treat. Yes, I have a child who requests Starbucks. But in her defense, she also requests Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. She’s very well rounded 😉 …and I’m up for mother of the year.
Second, I need to rest and recuperate after all that my body has been through. I need to nurse in peace and quiet. I need to watch daytime tv in the same sweatshirt I’ve worn for three days in a row with my son asleep on my shoulders, and not feel guilty about that. I need his scent to linger with me, long after I’ve put him down to sleep. I need to be able to shower without someone screaming at me to find Mother Goose Club on the iPad.
Last, my daughter needs her routine. She needs her friends and her teachers. She needs to play and paint and count and sing. She needs all of those things she would not be getting at home with me right now. She doesn’t need to hear, “Mommy’s hands are busy” more times than she already does.
After 7 weeks, Ryan and I are slowly settling into a routine. He is beginning to sleep longer stretches at night (wahoo). He has periods of quiet alertness during the day where he enjoys just watching me and looking around. He rarely fusses (fingers crossed). He is a great eater, and is up to 11 lbs! He smiles a lot at us, especially his big sister, which she loves.
And I’m beginning to feel more like myself…slowly. I’ve finally begun working out again and eating clean (more on that later). I’ve started to lose some of the baby weight. I’ve been wearing something other than my same gray sweatshirt, although I’m still only wearing yoga pants. I’ve put on makeup a few times.
Chloe is happy and excited to go to school each day which makes mornings so much more enjoyable. She is also showing signs of wanting to potty train (yikes). She helps bathe Ryan at night and sings to him. She gives him kisses whenever she can.
My two babies, I hope you know how much you are loved. You are so loved.
Squishy man and Chloe Bear, first day home as brother and sister.