A few weeks ago, I reached out to my community of amazing women and asked for some advice on becoming a mother of two children.
I asked only one question: “What do you wish someone had told you about having a second baby?” I was blown away by the responses I received. Women from across the country, with children of all ages, opened up and spoke honestly about their experiences of being a mother to multiple children.
At first I was thinking I would condense their words and only publish a few, little quotable bits. But as the responses started rolling in, I decided instead to publish everything as a mini-series of guest posts. I have learned so much from reading the words of these incredible women. Whether you are (like me) currently expecting your second child or are a veteran parent of multiples, I hope you are also able to benefit from hearing the stories and perspectives these women have shared…
In this second installment, a women of two young girls shares her feelings and experiences with parenting and balancing work life with the demands of motherhood.
Real Advice for Mothers Expecting A Second Child – Part 2
“I was warned and planned for having less time with my two year old, less time with my husband, and basically no time for myself. I was prepared that my house would be messy and toys would spill from their boundaries to conquer all spaces. I was prepared for increased laundry and spit rags, and four times as many diapers to change on a daily basis (sadly potty training has still not been perfected). Most of all I had planned and prepared to leave my new little baby at an early age and head back to work when she was 6 months, something I did not have to do with my older baby. Most importantly I was prepared for the unknown, I knew as a second time mom that there are things I just wouldn’t be able to prepare for, wouldn’t even know to expect. Knowing and preparing did nothing to prepare me for the amount of guilt that buried me hours after my daughter was born.
The first bits of guilt were expected: less time with my toddler, less one on one cuddle time with my baby, less time to have actual conversations with my husband. I did not expect to feel such guilt in every aspect of my life with every person I interacted with. On a daily basis I felt guilt over not spending enough time with either child, that the time spent was not always quality mommy time, that TV was viewed much more frequently by my toddler just so I could nurse or put a the baby to sleep, or have a minute without her running around the house needing my attention. Guilt over asking my husband to do things after his long work day that I use to manage. Guilt over not cloth diapering as soon as I had planned. Guilt over never having time to let my sweet baby sleep on me because when she was napping was the only time I had alone with my toddler. Guilt over taking that special time away from the toddler to clean, wash, or cook. Guilt that we didn’t get outside as much as we should have because of the wind or sun. Guilt over wanting just a few precious moments without someone clinging to my body and needing me every second of the day. Guilt that it took me 5 weeks to bond with my baby because of post-partum depression. Guilt that I had post-partum depression. Guilt that I was unable to be as good a mother of two as everyone else I saw or read about. Guilt that I was returning to work when my baby was so young.
Then I began going back to work and an entirely new amount of guilt set in.
Guilt that I felt less depressed when I left my kids with someone else all day long. Guilt because I left them all day long. Guilt that I was always tired from long nights, long days, no naps, and all the work of two kids and a husband. Guilt at work with my co-workers, because I took so much time off for maternity leave when another only took 6 weeks. Guilt that they had to take on so much of my duties for several months, because of unforeseen circumstances with filling my position temporarily. Guilt that I wasn’t doing as good a job as I could have been, because I wanted to put family priorities first.
I could keep going about the guilt I feel every moment each day, but not dwelling on the guilt is the most important thing I have learned as a mom of two kids. I wish someone had told me that in the beginning. I know I’m doing a great job, my children are happy, healthy, and incredibly gifted (no bias there, I swear), my husband is helping me out and spending time with both kids. My house is pretty much a pit, but I’m ok with that because it means more time with my family. I know all of these things, but I still live in a pit of guilt that no one warned me about.”
– NJ, mother of two, ages 2 years and 7 months