"How do you do it?"
I've never counted, but I imagine the number of times I've been asked that question by moms with one or two children is somewhere in the hundreds. I have five children, and judging by the look on the tired and weary faces that pose the question, that number seems simply impossible.
"How do you do it?"
Those are five loaded words, I suppose because the "it" behind that question is different for everyone.
How do you care for five little people?
How do you operate on little sleep?
How do you keep them safe?
How do you find time to do the laundry?
How do you afford them?
How do you keep from losing your ever-loving mind?
Mamas of one and two children, I understand every one of these questions. And I understand just where you're coming from.
There are some things I want you to know about me. About children. About this journey through motherhood that we're both on.
If no one has ever told you ...
1. You are maxed out — emotionally and physically — at the number of children you currently have. When I had my 2-month-old baby Jack, I sat on the edge of my bed and cried like a toddler who dropped her brand new ice cream cone because I thought my life was over. Over! This child, my supposed dream come true, wanted to wake up in the middle of the night and feed off of me, and all I wanted was to sleep. Baby "Not What I'd Read" would sleep, sleep, sleep all morning while I did dishes and caught up on laundry, but no way I was getting a nap in the afternoon when all of that was finished.
The first time I went to Target with him, I took so much gear with me (I took my Boppy, people), that after I loaded up the cart with him and my gear, I couldn't buy anything because nothing fit.
I was completely overwhelmed. And then he grew into a mobile baby, and I thought it would be a good idea to get pregnant again so that while he was ripping everything out of the cabinets, bleeding from the mouth from playing bumper cars with the coffee table, eating the sofa, crawling the stairs to plummet to his demise and licking the electrical outlets, I could also be barfing.
And he still didn't sleep.
And then his brother arrived, eighteen months after he was born. And I had no idea how people could possibly care for two children. Who are these lunatics who have a ton of children? How on earth am I supposed to nurse a newborn and keep my maniac toddler from imminent death?
I was maxed out. It was one of the hardest times of my life — caring for one and then 18 months later, two of them.
Moms of one and two children, you are doing hard work. It is overwhelming and completely exhausting, and figuring it all out is some of the most physically, mentally, emotionally demanding and heart-wrenching work you will ever do. I know you are maxed out — in every way. And I tell you this not as someone who is patting you on the back and looking at you with condescending pity but as someone who knows how hard you are working and how taxing this season is on you. But there is hope. It does get easier. Not because a light bulb goes off one day and you figure it all out.
But because ...
2. You will find your way. Your way. Not your mom's way. Not Granny's way. Not pushy Aunt Bertie's way.
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