Monday, May 23, 2011

Mothering Two

In anticipating this baby’s birth, and especially since a friend just gave birth to her second baby, I’ve been thinking a lot about being a mommy to two. At first, I was really, really looking forward to having a newborn again, and I still am. But even more….I’m looking forward to having a newborn and Vivi.

Newborns are so much fun…with their tiny fingers and toes, their adorable bums, their downy heads, their soft skin, and their sweet baby scent. I can’t wait to have a baby I can wear all day long again. I’m looking forward to sharing the breastfeeding relationship with a helpless newborn again. I’m looking forward to wearing this baby while I do everything in my day-to-day agenda.

But, Vivi’s at an adorable stage, and while 5 months will change her, I know she’ll still be at a super fun stage- one I wouldn’t want to trade for anything. She’ll probably be climbing on chairs and “helping” me with everything. She’ll most likely have a huge repertoire of signs under her belt, and probably be talking a lot more by then, too. She’s such a gabber, I know she has a lot to tell about, so as soon as she can put it all in words and signs, there’ll probably be no lack of conversation between the two of us! And though she’ll be more active and independent, she’ll probably still need to be worn, for the sake of mommy snuggles. It’s just the way she’s wired- and I love it. Nursing Vivi is so much fun, too- just not very modest.

If you put the two together, I think you’ve just created heaven on earth. Getting to snuggle the baby into the sling or wrap while Vivi stands next to me helping to knead dough or wash dishes. Nursing both at once. Or nursing the baby while reading to or playing with Vivi. Or nursing Vivi and spending some one-on-one time with her while the baby naps. Snuggling the baby on my front and Vivi on my back to go for walks. Watching their relationship unfold. Teaching Viviana how to be gentle, and watching as they discover each other. As the baby grows, playing on the floor with both of them…helping Vivi learn to share. When warm weather hits, spending time outside, all three of us together. Waking up in the morning with my three treasures- Ben, Vivi and baby- all lying next to me. Watching both my angels sleep. Seeing how they’re similar, and how they’re drastically different…watching each one’s strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies shine through. Yes, my friends….heaven on earth.

And I’m really looking forward to the babymoon. Vivi and I will be working hard this fall to get ready for it, so we can enjoy a nice, long, relaxed season of just being together. Newborns grow so quickly, and Vivi will probably need plenty of extra snuggles as she adjusts to the new phase of life…both of which make good excuses for preparing ahead and enjoying a leisurely month or so. It should be a ball!

I know…it won’t all be dream-like. There’ll be rough days….there’ll be nights when both babies need me all night…there’ll be spots when both are cranky and desperately need individual attention. Times when I can’t get either to sleep when they need to. Times when I’m too tired to lug around 35-40+lbs of baby.

Yes, I do know it won’t be fairy land. I understand that there will be difficult days- that’s why I’m fully stocking the freezer and pantry beforehand, and will continue to do things ahead on our good days- if I was going in blindly, I wouldn’t do things like that. So that firstly we can be lazy and hang out for a good while after the baby’s born as we soak in our new life, and secondly so that on the rough days my babies will be all the responsibility I have. And I know…that even there, I’ll get overwhelmed sometimes- because as it happens, I’m not super woman. I know sometimes I won’t be content to not get everything done. I know I won’t like letting the house slide to messiness some days because I decided my focus needed to be my babies. But that’s okay. Those facts can help me to prepare better for the challenges at hand, but there’s no reason for them to steal my dreams.

I’m sure plenty of you are laughing my ideals down to the ground by about now. You think I’m crazy, because after all, I have no idea. And in a sense, you’re right- all I have to go on are the dreams God’s given me and my experience as a mommy to one. But on the other hand, I can’t help but feel that you’re wrong. Because although life will change drastically, how it plays out still depends almost entirely on my attitude. On how I handle it. God didn’t design life with two littles to be miserable, of that I’m certain. He intended for children to grow up in loving, happy, nourishing homes, so they can flourish and fly. There just isn’t room for misery in that picture.

And because- people assured me that marriage would be so difficult, in a negative sense. They were wrong. They assured me pregnancy would be miserable and difficult…but they were wrong. They assured me that I had no idea about giving birth, and it was a terrible experience worthy of horror stories….and they were so wrong. People assured me that life with one baby would be very difficult and time consuming- that it wouldn’t all be like you think it is and there’s crazy ideas you just can’t hold on to (you know, certain plastic contraptions are just vital to survival)…and they were wrong. Oh, sure, there were challenges with each…but they weren’t at all the way people tried desperately to get me to see them. I think I’m starting to see a trend, here- I don’t understand it exactly, because I can’t understand why someone would want to make my life- and my children and husband’s lives- miserable. I just know I’m not tied in any way to replicating those lives. I wouldn’t have any business being pregnant if I did play out my mothering that way.

God planted dreams in my heart, just like He did with Vivi. And I don’t think He planted them there just for me to let them be crushed with negativity and stress. No- He planted those dreams to give me new ideals…something to strive for. To show me His ideals for our life. To show me how I can best invest in my children’s lives. And- He planted them to give me something to strive for on the hard days. To be able to remember when I let my ideals down…to be able to go back and try again. To cling to when I want to give up…when I don’t feel like carrying on my ideals. Because all that will happen…I’m not perfect, and if so much depends on my attitude, I have great control over what our life looks like…but also, great potential for failing sometimes.

So…those ideals might sound absolutely crazy- and until they can be played out, sharing them might make me look like a fool. But I can’t afford to drown in the negativity people would have me thrown in…and so I swim above, at risk of looking like a fool. And though I’ll do my best to be graceful with you if you try to drag me under, I won’t, anymore, just listen and act like you’re right. It isn’t kind, loving or just to my babies. My babies need me to hold fast to my ideals, for their sakes. Vivi doesn’t need to live with a mother who coats herself in fear for the next 5 months. And neither baby needs to live with a mother who steps into the next level of life already at a huge disadvantage, just because of my negative, fearful attitude.

If, on the other hand, you want to share with me what was hard, and how you conquered it, I’m very interested in hearing. I’ll listen with open ears, and consider what you have to say. If you offer advice that goes against what we believe, and what our ideals hold, the advice might not linger, but I will listen. If a certain aspect of tandem nursing was more difficult than you anticipated, I’d enjoy being prepared. If you found things that worked well for you, I’d love to hear. Like I’ve said, I’m all about preparing ahead. I’m all for considering what my challenges might be and preparing for them. I’m a planner, and I like to think through challenges and how best to conquer them. So, I do want to hear about the difficulties- I want to prepare, and I know when I’m there I’ll want to know I’m not the only mom who has long days. I just don’t want them to be drenched in negativity, with the seeming intent of dragging me down.

I’m an idealist, and so I cling to the very highest I can find, the deepest dreams God gives. Not so I can be the perfect mom, and not because I’ll be able to live the ideals out perfectly, everyday. But so I always have something higher to strive for…so I can keep reaching upward….so I have a fast reminder when my focus or attitude is slipping…so I can read God’s dreams for me, and hold them tightly when life isn’t all roses…so I can be the very best I can be- even if that isn’t ever perfection.

8 comments:

  1. Well said Brianna! Keep it up :)

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  2. Seriously, I LOVE being a mom of two. It is so much fun. Sure there are some rough days, but I love love love it. And I would say that if you asked me 99% of the time. It is so fun to watch Hans and Gretchen interact, and I love having a toddler and a baby :-). I've been dreaming about #3 since Gretchen was only a few months old. Now, is that because I'm super mom? Um, no. I hate that term :-P. It's largely due to a very easy second baby :-). And God has also been working on my heart a lot the past year, helping to find joy in my daily tasks and just loving the day in and day out of caring for littles, instead of thinking "another diaper change" or "another load of laundry." I'm also really enjoying this stage because I am overall much more rested than I have been in the past due to (1) Gretchen sleeping relatively well - usually one waking per night and (2) being better about going to bed early when I have a sleep deficit.

    You go right ahead and look forward to having two! Yes, it's hard work. But it's also wondrous work :-).

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  3. Susan...I very much enjoyed your comment! I think I'm going to reread it another time or two, LOL... :-) And keep it filed in the back of my mind to remind me that I'm not totally crazy. Seriously...there aren't very many moms like you....and it sure is fun to hear from someone who loves what she does as a mommy to two!

    It does seem like finding joy in the little tasks is a huge part of being able to enjoy motherhood. I don't think you really can if you don't enjoy the little things...and certainly, you can't, if you let all those things stress you! Anyway....that's a great focus to remember to keep!

    It's so funny how huge a difference different personalities in babies make.... :-) Vivi was a good handful of months old before I was starting to think #2...at 3 months, we were just starting to ease into the stage of life where I could spend more than 20 minutes a week with just Ben. :-D I think we were rather blest to get high-needs babies for firsts....I probably won't know what to do with myself if this baby tends towards the easier end! :-) And can see looking forward to another baby sooner.... It could be a bit of a rude awakening to have, say, 2 or 3 easy babies, and then Vivi. ;-) Just about the time you thought you had life and parenting figured out, right?

    One night waking is pretty great! :-) With Vivi's 1st birthday recently, I was reading through her journal and noticed a time period where she slept 7-9 hours straight most nights. I kind of forgot about that! :-D But last night was pretty great (3 wakings, I think?), so.... I'm definitely pretty good about going to bed early when it's desperately needed....poor Ben's had more than a few nights of entertaining himself b/c I fell asleep putting Vivi to bed. :-)

    Anyway....thanks for your comment, and your enthusiasm for motherhood! Your kiddos probably don't realize just how blessed they are, or how rare their situation is... :-) Muchly enjoyed hearing from someone who's there and for real loves it...enough to share that, instead of just the horror junk, with other people... :-)

    Have a fabulous day with Hans and Gretchen!

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  4. Love this! I don't have two yet but I do look forward to that one day. I too miss 24/7 babywearing! I am going to post this on facebook for all my friends that have 2 babies close together

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  5. MMM- thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I hope some of your friends are blessed, as well.

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  6. You make me wish I was married and having my second baby now! Though I am in a different season of life right now, single and working full time in ministry, this is very encouraging to read and even applies to my life. You are so right. It is all about how you approach situations in life. You are living out your call to be a wife and mother. I would even say it is your ministry.

    My sister is having her first baby in a month, and society has her terrified for wanting a natural delivery. I don't understand why people want to discourage. They are missing out on a huge blessing by looking at raising children all wrong. You have an amazing attitude though, and I know God will bless you for it! You must have a pretty amazing mother. Keep writing and I pray God will use your words to encourage those tired discouraged mothers!
    Laura

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  7. Gosh...that makes me so angry! Why, why, why do people feel they must scare the life out of first time moms preparing to give birth?! It's so frustrating....I couldn't believe how many people did to me....even men, for crying out loud. Anyway- I hope Lissa doesn't listen to them, since fear will just make them right in the end. She can and should have the natural birth she wants, and enjoy it while she's at it! Those kind of people drive me nuts...and, as mentioned in the article, I've encountered them every step of the way in my life journey. Many (most?) even "normal" people who claim to be your friends, etc.

    Now, off that rampage.... :-) Thanks for the comment! I really enjoyed hearing that it was a blessing to you....you're definitely right, every part of life is about your attitude towards it- I'm glad you were able to glean/appreciate! Yes, I definitely consider mothering to be my "ministry"....it might not look like anything glamorous, but it's my mission field anyway.

    Thanks again for stopping by, and your encouragement in my direction! I hope what I write blesses at least an occasional person.

    Blessings!

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  8. Hey Brianna...I found your blog through your husband Ben on HSA. I'm Sarai on there.

    I just wanted to say that I totally understand what you're saying about people being constantly negative! I have to admit that I had a pretty miserable pregnancy (throwing up/dizzy/heart issues the whole time, then pre-term labor), and people said, "just wait for the birth...you'll want to die!" My birth was natural, in the hospital, and went really well. Then they said that I would be exhausted and miserable with a newborn...and I wasn't. She nursed and slept well from the beginning, I got lots of sleep, and I felt TONS better than while I was pregnant. Then they said that "she'll get worse once she hits 2 months!"...and she didn't. They said that co-sleeping would make it so she couldn't nap without me (untrue), that wearing her would make it so she couldn't be put down (untrue), and that having her in our bedroom would disrupt our marriage (also untrue). Every time she proved someone wrong, they would just tell me to "wait until she is...[4 months, teething, sitting up, crawling, 8 months, 10 months, blah blah)". She continues to be one of the calmest, happiest, sweetest babies I've ever met, and I'm not just saying that because I'm her mom. :) (well, maybe I'm a bit biased...)

    I don't understand why people like to scare new/young mothers by telling them that the next stage with their child will be horrible/miserable/exhausting. The newest thing is for people to tell me "just wait until she starts walking!", as if she's going to suddenly go from sweet crawling/climbing/cruising baby to terror walking baby!

    People are so ridiculous.

    Anyway, just wanted to comment. :)

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