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 final installment of the series, two mothers share their experiences with parenting children who are very close in age.
Real Advice for Mothers Expecting a Second Child – Part 4
“For me it was the guilt that nobody ever warned me about. I felt guilty for a few reasons after my second baby was born and it caught me completely by surprise. People kept saying how adding another baby isn’t twice the work it’s more like five times the work, and I tried to prepare myself for that aspect of it, but it was the emotional component that really threw me off-track for a while. After my youngest was born I felt guilty because I looked at this little baby and she felt like such a stranger. I knew what it was like to love a child because we had my son, so when the baby came along I kept comparing the way I loved my older child to the way I loved her. I felt bad because I felt like I loved my older son more, even though in reality I didn’t love him more, I just knew him longer and loved him differently. I really thought there was something wrong with me because nobody spoke of feeling this way, and at times it made me feel like a bad mother. I don’t think this is necessarily something everybody goes through, but I had a difficult time coming to terms with those feelings and I wish I had been given a little warning that it could happen and be told that it’s normal (which I think it is!).
I also missed my older child incredibly! Before the baby it was just the two of us hanging out for most of the day. I was the one who made his meals, changed his diapers, entertained him, and put him down to sleep, and after the baby came along I had to give up most of those duties, and that time spent with my son, to either my husband or my mom. It was really hard on me because even though my son wasn’t physically far apart it felt like he was because my one-on-one time with him went from 100% to like 1%. It made me so sad, and again that guilt crept up on me. I think it’s crucial to carve out time for just you and the older sibling, not just for your child’s well being but yours as well.
Having two is exciting and terrifying, but you can do it! Some days, especially in the beginning, it will be so hard and you’ll think, “What the hell was I thinking?!! I can’t do this! I give up!!” and you’ll feel like you’re barely hanging on by a thread. But then when your kids start getting older and they start playing and laughing together it is the best feeling, and you’ll wonder how you could have lived your life without your second child. And when they can entertain each other in a separate room without fighting so you can have a moment of peace)…..ahhh, then life is good!”
– BH, mother of two, ages 3 years and 19 months
“The good news is that 3 years later, it is hard to remember what really occurred and how I handled it all. The challenges shall pass and life will seem normal again. Until then, however, be ready to feel like you’ve been split in two. Baby’s needs are constant and your toddler starts to need you all the time too, which is remarkable because he/she seemed so independent just before the birth of the second. There are days you’ll be hearing, “mommy mommy mommy mommy” and not much else (probably from having gone deaf). There is crying, attention seeking and constant feedings. And you are sleep deprived. A lethal combination. But it gets better. Soon they’ll be friends and off together plotting in their room how they can best kill the monster in the living room… You.”
– NK, mother of two, ages 4 years and 3 years