A few weeks ago, my husband had a work trip. For the past year, the words “work trip” were enough to make my blood go cold. Our family is set up to function with two full-time parents – when one is gone for a few days, it doesn’t work. Six months ago, my husband’s work trips left me exhausted, frustrated, and defeated.
But this time was different. This time when he returned home, not only were we all alive and fed, but the house was fairly picked up, the kids were clean, and I was not collapsed in a heap on the bedroom floor.
The next week, the baby took his first steps. And it hit me:
We were out of the baby fog.
Instead of a two-year-old who is furious that his world has been rocked by a tiny baby, we now have a three-year-old who is seeing his brother as a potential playmate.
Instead of freaking out that the baby has a toy which was previously his, he enjoys teaching his brother how to play with his trains.
Instead of dropping everything to nurse a fussy baby at 5:30 pm while I’m trying to get dinner ready, I can throw some puffs on his high chair tray and make him laugh with silly faces.
Instead of waking up an hour early in order to fit in nursing and a pumping session before work, we can both sleep in a little, and he can hold his own bottle while I get ready.
Instead of lugging around an insanely heavy infant seat, I now strap the baby into a convertible car seat and set him in the child seat of a cart or in a high chair at a restaurant.
Instead of strategically coordinating my outfit with nursing/pumping needs, I have freedom in the form of breast milk in a bottle, and a baby relying more and more on solids for his nutritional needs.
I don’t know about all the other mamas of 2+ kids, but the transition from one to two kids was TOUGH for us. I remember looking at my husband completely bewildered last October when our youngest was just a couple of weeks old. Clearly, we had not thought through the whole second kid thing.
This isn’t my first rodeo.
I know with all these new found freedoms, there are trade-offs. (Such as two kids three and under with minds of their own and ninja-like abilities to evade me.) There were many times my husband and I fought over who cared for the immobile baby versus his highly-opinionated older brother. The baby’s opinions are growing by the second, as is his strength, making both children equally enjoyable during the witching hour.
I’ve read a lot about “surviving” versus “thriving” over the past year. I’ve come to the conclusion that during this season – the season of diapers, sleepless nights, and little developing minds – surviving is thriving. When you’re deep in the fog, you can’t see how much you’re growing. As soon as that fog clears though, you see your babies happy, healthy, and thriving.
There is still a possibility of re-entering the baby fog in a year to two years, but that is a discussion for another day. For now, I’m going to enjoy my two toddlers (who will always be my babies), a glass of wine, and a solid, consecutive eight hours of sleep.