Recently, one of the women who follows OMTA brought to my attention that the tone of my posts has changed somewhat since I had Sam. She’s one of my most loyal followers whose opinion I really value, so it kind of caught me off guard: was I being overly negative and not realizing it? I looked back through some recent posts and saw that, in many ways, she was right. I’ve written a lot more in the past couple months about my struggles with motherhood than I ever did when I had just one child.
By way of explanation (which I know she wasn’t looking for—she was just very sweetly checking in on me) I told her that I try to always be very honest and forthcoming on OMTA about what I’m feeling in that exact moment. And what I’m feeling right this minute is a mixture of emotions: ones that range from unbelievably overwhelmed to extraordinarily grateful, all at the same time. For me, those feelings are significant enough to give voice to because I strongly believe the hard moments of motherhood deserve just as much credence as the beautiful ones.
So I’ll admit, having two kids at home has been a major adjustment and not quite in the ways I imagined when I was pregnant with Sam. I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy worrying about the bond between the two of them, about Chase not accepting Sam as part of our family, about the guilt I felt cutting short Chase’s only child years. And, truly, all of that worrying amounted to nothing but wasted time. Chase has adjusted better to having a little brother than I could have ever imagined; Sam is the first person he wants to see when he wakes up in the morning and the last person he wants to say goodnight to at bedtime. All day long, he’s attentive to Sam’s needs: helping rock him when he’s crying, giving him gentle kisses when he’s awake, whispering around him when he’s sleeping. He proudly points him out to strangers in the store and shows him off to the other moms at the breastfeeding support group we go to every week. He’s surpassed my wildest dreams as far as adjustment to such a huge life change goes.
The thing I didn’t foresee? My own growing pains. With Chase, I felt like a lot of my identity remained intact; as I recently wrote about on Scary Mommy, I was still able to eat and shower and work out and see friends almost as regularly as I did before I had a baby. I was able to keep on top of housework fairly well and I had a good chunk of time during the day while Chase napped to accomplish other things that needed to get done—writing, editing, bill paying, etc.
Now, my free time has all but evaporated. Since I wasn’t really able to breastfeed Chase, I underestimated just how much time and dedication nursing a baby around the clock takes. Sam is attached to me for the greater part of every day and, while I am beyond thrilled that breastfeeding is going so well this time, I’m having a hard time adjusting to this newfound lack of time to get things done. Simply put, I’m a doer. So sitting on the couch nursing while the house continues to get filthier and more cluttered around me is unnerving. Having Chase’s naptime eaten up by breastfeeding, diaper changing and entertaining Sam is an adjustment. Going several days without showering or putting a dent in the multiple loads of dishes in the sink takes some getting used to. Having more ideas, inspiration and opportunities for writing than I’ve ever had, but drastically less time to execute them has been, at times, incredibly frustrating.
I know that I am beyond fortunate to be able to stay home with my children; my husband works his ass off every day to make that possible for our family. So I often feel that my grievances are pretty trivial compared to those of some working moms who long to have the opportunity that I do. I’m fully aware that this is a problem many moms would kill to have.
That said, I’m also trying to be better about giving myself the emotional space to acknowledge my feelings, no matter how insignificant or hormone-induced they may be. My children are, by far, the greatest blessing of my life, but that doesn’t mean they don’t come with a significant learning curve. I’m sure that, in time, I’ll get used to this lack of free time and it will become my new normal. Or I will adjust my expectations accordingly, so it’s not quite as frustrating if things don’t get accomplished as quickly. But, for now, I’m going to really ease into it. I’m going to give myself some time to adjust. And I’m going to allow myself to feel exactly what I need to feel right this minute.