I had a doctor once tell me that you don't really understand parenthood until you have two. I was pregnant with baby #2 at the time. I thought he was completely off base. After all, I knew what it meant to be a parent, and I only had one child. And for those many parents out there that never have more than the one, well, they do understand what it means to be a parent and I would never discount that. But two? Well, now I understand what he was trying to tell me.
Some people will say that two children isn't that much different than one. Those people are crazy. Either that or they're lying. Ethan kept us busy from the time he was born. There's no doubt about that. The difference was that we could focus solely on Ethan. And so tag-teaming meant that one of us could hang with the kid and the other could spend a couple hours prepping food for the week. Healthy food. One of us could spoon feed the munchkin while the other prepped our dinners.
Over time, we fell into a routine that worked well. Weekends were easier to negotiate because if one person had something going on, well, the other could take THE kid. Evenings fell into a simple routine of eat, bath, read, snuggle. And we alternated, meaning every other evening one of us was off the hook.
And then came Dylan. All of sudden tag-teaming means "you take that one and I'll take this one." Dinners have turned into phone calls to the other saying things like, "Hey, the grocery store has chicken dinner for a family of four for $8.99. You want?" Of course the other person wants. It makes life easier. No one has to make dinner. Bliss.
Now that Dylz is also being fed, well, that throws a wrench into an already delicate situation. Now I have to figure out how to get him fed and get dinner ready in time for bath around seven.
Over the weekend, I had the boys and I braved a trip to town with both. Have you ever seen those women with two or three kids all orderly and behaved? The one that calmly redirects her child when he tries to stray? I have. I hate her. And I was wondering around the store with two boys, one crying and the other trying to run away, I wondered what others thought of me. Did I look calm? Did I look "in charge?" Or did I look exactly how I felt: a mother on the verge of losing it all.
You see, back in day, I could just throw Ethan over my shoulder and ignore the "can't she control that child" look. Now? Well, it's hard to throw a four-year-old over my shoulder while holding a 5-month-old in my arms.
And so yes, I had experienced motherhood before Dylan. I did understand what it meant to love unconditionally, to worry when there was nothing to worry about, and to fight against the frazzle that comes with it all. But now, as a mom to not one but two boys, I understand that there is room to love both equally, that it's not worth sweating the small stuff because I'll know when it's time to worry, and that fighting is futile. Frazzled is just fine.