When my husband and I were discussing the possibility of upgrading our current family from the three person to four person model, I sat down and had a chat with my mum. I figured, as a mum of three and an all round awesome person, she would likely have some words of wisdom that would make me less frightened of the change. Her response? “One is hard, two is damn near impossible, but three is a walk in the park”. As we were looking at going for child number two, the news wasn’t quite as reassuring as I had hoped.
She was right, at least in my case. Two was significantly harder, especially in those early days. Trying to entertain my three year old, whilst simultaneously trying to feed a newborn that screamed constantly and didn’t take to feeding very well (we later found out it was allergy related, but that was only helpful AFTER the diagnosis), was far more taxing that I’d imagined. I had plenty of dark moments in those early days, because my hormones hadn’t levelled out just yet and I had somehow, in the three years since my older daughter was born, forgotten how to parent a newborn. My son had allergies that we didn’t get diagnosed for 8 weeks, and that in itself was terribly hard.
What I didn’t anticipate, however, was how much more joy two children brought both me and my husband. Yes, I was exhausted beyond the telling of it. Yes, there were times when I sat on the couch when my baby was asleep and my three year old was finally quiet (a rare moment indeed) and thought, “what have I gotten myself into?”. But more often I’d watch my daughter kiss my son on the head and tell me how much she loved him, and I would feel overwhelmed with love. I would look into my beautiful babies eyes and be completely blindsided by how beautiful he was. I’d be surprised constantly by how incredibly kind and sweet my daughter was to her new baby brother.
Not all stories are the same. Some people find two easier to manage, because they are less scared the second time around. They know what they are doing. Some people find it significantly harder. Children are also extremely different, and there is no “one size fits all” mould that they all fit into. Some sleep well, some don’t. Some are fairly chilled, and some cry constantly. There are mums who cope alright with the sleep deprivation, and there are those that fear the night and the constant waking more than anything.
These days, with a four year old and a one year old, things are much simpler in many regards. I’m getting, for the most part, enough sleep to sustain me. I can generally work out what each child needs at any given time, and I can sit back and watch them play happily together. I got through the hard part. And I’ve realised a very valuable lesson, that we all manage the best we can.