A whole month has already passed since Akira was born, and I am still trying to wrap my head around how quickly that happened. In that month, both our moms came to visit, and just as quickly as they came and went, another round of family came into town to shower us with love, food, extra hands and lots of help. Our moms spoiled us with the comfort foods we grew up with and had their special touches with the baby that only grandmothers seem to have. Our siblings made us laugh and reminded us of our autonomy while doting on their newest nephew and humoring their precocious niece. Our nephews brought excitement and childhood wonderment that permanently imprinted on our children. And we were given some precious hours to ourselves to sleep and be alone in a quiet house. We are so incredibly lucky to have the families we have, no matter the distance, near and far.
In the first weeks of life as a family of four, Jesse and I lost track of time. The days were long but the weeks were short and fast. What we lost in sleep or patience or energy, we made up for in the love that exploded in our nuclear world. Being a mom for the second time was more intimidating than I had anticipated. I think I went in with the mentality that it would maybe be easier this time around because I had the “experience.” Two kids? No problem, right? Nope. I was wrong.
Sure, newborns sleep a lot. That’s pretty much all they do for the first three months of life outside the womb. Well, that and eat, poop and cry, although not necessarily in that order. While that might not seem like much, balancing the timing of all of those things while also managing a very independent and opinionated “threenager” is, to put it bluntly, chaos. Trying to maintain some semblance of sanity and remembering to eat, rest and shower feels futile at best. Yet, in the thick of it all, there is something rewarding in all of that challenge. I don’t think I fully understood what parents meant when they would talk about that kind of reward in parenting. That’s not to say I didn’t feel it the first time around. I just think that it might just be more front and center now simply because the workload has literally doubled.
The first time around, I prided myself on still being able to make time for myself while having a newborn. This time? I’ve turned into the mom who forgets to shower and has breast milk on every article of clothing that currently fits me. But you know what? I’ve also learned to cut myself some more slack because, let’s be honest here, this isn’t easy. No matter how easy other moms make it look, they too are having their challenges. And that’s OK.
In this first month, any sort of confidence I had in my parenting skills was tested. I was humbled in being reminded of how hard those first few weeks are even with a relatively “easy” baby. I questioned my abilities and admired other mothers who make having two kids look like the most normal thing in the world. I wondered, in the middle of the fourth, fifth or sixth feeding in the middle of the night, if I was doing a good job. I would even settle for “good enough.” Something I learned about myself was that I needed to learn how to let go of all the responsibility and allow others, most especially my husband, to help me out.
I’m discovering now that parenting has an enormous learning curve and that it changes on a daily, if not hourly, basis. We just have to take it one baby step at a time.