I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Being one of four children, plus two step-siblings, and close to 40 first cousins, a desire for motherhood was engrained in me from a very early age. Now that my husband and I have started a family of our own, I have a new understanding of the sometimes painful challenges that growing a family entails.
Before having my first child, I would have told you I wanted three or four children of my own. Then I had my first, and decided three was probably, definitely good. Then I had my second and thought, “What did we just do? I am so overwhelmed. How do people have more than one child? Who is this new baby girl who looks nothing like my first daughter? Why did we do this and change the good thing we had going?”
Perception versus Reality
I absolutely love being a mother and it feels surreal sometimes that I am living my dream. But after my second daughter was born in 2018, I had serious questions about my ability to handle more than two children like I had always imagined. I have wrestled with my previous ideas of what our family would look like compared to what might be the new reality.
I think about my own mother who had four children. I think about my grandmothers who, combined, had twelve children. And I think about many of my aunts who have had four or five children each.
How did they do it?!
If all of these women in my life have done it, why does it feel so hard for me?
Why does it feel like maybe I shouldn’t have more than two children after all?
Will it make me a better, more worthy woman and mom if I do have more children? (Of course the answer is NO)
Admittedly, I feel much differently now than I did when we first welcomed baby #2 into the world. I was overwhelmed on all levels and it didn’t help that the 21-month-old big sister was having a difficult time adjusting to the new baby as well. In my mind, she still was a baby herself, so it broke my heart when she screamed and cried for me to hold her while I was trying to nurse the baby. I wanted to be everything to her that I was before, and I felt like I was failing because the new baby needed me more.
My husband took over big sister’s bedtime routine, which left me sad on the couch, missing out on that special time. But I had to let go of some of those parenting responsibilities, which truly was best for everyone in the end. I can see that now, but in the early newborn days it wasn’t so easy.
It’s been 15 months of up and down emotions through this learning process of parenting two children: Learning how to get out of the house with both children more efficiently. Learning how to give both of my children the love and attention they need from their mother in their own unique ways. Learning how to mediate disputes over toys, or snacks, or one of the girls getting in the other’s way. Learning how to protect them and keep them safe, despite being outnumbered the majority of the day while my husband is at work. Learning how to get/keep them on their different nap schedules, and also learning to not let it bother me when routines get out of whack.
Being on the other side of the newborn life fog, I am starting to see how I could maybe, just possibly, handle another baby in the mix. Funny how time will blur those memories of feeling so unsure of ever wanting another child. I am constantly curious of other moms now – How did they know when they were “done” having children? Please tell me!
More than anything, through my motherhood journey I have learned that no matter how much I try to plan and control my life, ultimately there is a higher power in control who knows best and will provide all that my family and I need. I trust clarity will come my way and my family will grow, or not, just as it is meant to be.