I wasn’t sure whether or not to write this, because let’s be honest, nobody likes to admit that they are struggling. But I’m coming out of the other side now and I wanted to reach out to anyone who is feeling like they haven’t quite got it together, or like they are failing in some way.
When I had one child, I found it all very easy if I’m honest. I found aspects of lifestyle change, location change and the feeling of losing myself a bit difficult at first, but being a mother was quite a natural thing for me. Naively I didn’t think I would find having two very difficult, but if I’m honest adjusting from one to two was quite a struggle for me. I didn’t want to show anyone that I was finding it difficult though, so I kept up with the perfectly posed Facebook photos and always put on a brave face.
I’m not sure exactly what part of going from one to two children I found difficult, but I just felt like I was failing royally and that I was barely making it through the day. I wanted to keep up with the activities I had always done with Bear, so I pushed myself to keep planning our weeks even when I was exhausted. I felt guilty for not being able to just sit and cuddle Monkey as much as I had done with Bear. Monkey suffered with awful colic and reflux and I couldn’t continue babywearing to keep him upright because of the amount of muscle damage my two difficult labours had caused. My only support is Mr. C and at the time he worked so much, he was rarely home and I was the first of my friends to have a second baby so nobody understood how difficult adjusting from one to two can be. I just felt like I was failing, like I was making a complete mess of everything and that I was all alone in the struggle.
The smallest of things like a trip to the park were so difficult. Bear wanted to run around and climb on things but Monkey was too small to run after him, so we just stuck near the swings where I could contain them both, which Bear wasn’t happy about. Then Bear hit the terrible twos, he would erupt into tantrums over the most ridiculous things like new wellies, so walks through the woods consisted of lengthy negotiations, while I consciously counted down the minutes to Monkey’s next feed. Even going into the garden was difficult, Monkey would constantly be trying to eat stones, so I had to watch him like a hawk, but then Bear would get upset because I was so preoccupied with following Monkey around that I couldn’t push him around in his little car or catch him at the bottom of the slide. I had forgotten what sleep was. Monkey never slept. He didn’t know what sleep was. Trying to make dinner was a logistical nightmare. Before I had Monkey, Bear always entertained himself with the little activities I had set up, or would sit and clap along to my singing. Things changed when I had Monkey though, his colic would appear at dinner time, so the activities and singing were replaced with an hour or two of constant screaming. I would end up crying and on the verge of pulling my hair out, unable to do anything about it, but just wanting the noise to stop. I think seeing and hearing your children in pain, but being powerless to stop it is one of the hardest things to endure.
If I’m honest that first year as a mum of two was tough. Really bloody difficult actually. I cried a lot in that first year as a mum of two. I felt under a lot of pressure to keep it all together. Or at least I felt under pressure to pretend that I was keeping it all together. When really, underneath it felt like I was doing anything but keeping it together.
Then things changed, it stopped being quite as difficult and the days where I actually had it together started to outweigh the days where I was pretending to have it together. Monkey is now 16 months, Bear is nearly 3 and things are different. It happened so gradually, that I didn’t even notice things getting easier at first. But now, our trips to the park are fun again. The boys play nicely together (most of the time), Bear will happily stay within the distance I tell him to and usually they run in similar directions. People kept telling me that it gets harder when they are both on the move, but actually I find it a lot easier. It no longer takes lengthy negotiations to get wellies on Bear’s feet and Monkey no longer needs feeds, so walks through the woods are calming again, with no obsessive clock watching. I can now go out into the garden with the boys and actually play with them. They can both run around kicking a ball or make mud pies in the sensory garden kitchen, so sometimes I sit with a cup of tea watching them from the dining room. Sleep is still a bit sketchy, but I can deal with one or two night time wake up calls, opposed to the eight or nine that we were having before. The colic is gone. Making dinner isn’t a stress anymore, they will sit and play nicely while I’m cooking and on bad days when they are overtired, or feeling a bit irritable, they will both sit and watch TV for twenty minutes, so I can get dinner ready without too much stress.
I feel like I’m making my way out of the woods now and getting back on track. Don’t get me wrong, there are still difficult days where I consider hiding in a cupboard, but they are very few and far between. If you haven’t made it out of the woods yet and are struggling with the adjustment from one to two children, you aren’t alone. Even if it feels like it. It’s okay to not have it together. It’s okay to find it difficult, it’s okay to take time to adjust and it’s okay to admit if you are struggling. Reach out to those around you, I know that my first year as a mum of two would have been a lot easier if I had done.