Yesterday at 9:30am I could already tell that both boys needed a nap. Sam always naps, but it's not often that Charlie does anymore, so I was excited at the possibility of them napping together later in the day. Of course though, tired kids are often cranky kids, and right before lunch we had an epic meltdown situation, which doesn't happen too often, but does happen. While both boys were acting out and crying, I was calmly cutting up an apple in the kitchen, not quite ignoring them, but certainly not reacting to their bad behavior. And I was laughing to myself, because a year ago this would have sent me into a panic and I would have been freaking out right alongside them.
When we brought Sam home from the hospital, not a lot changed right away. Except for the overnight wakings/feedings, I think most people would agree that having a newborn is easier than a toddler. Since a newborn doesn't need much, our days still revolved around Charlie. We would spend the mornings out, the baby would sleep in his stroller or car seat, and then we would come home for lunch and Charlie would nap. I quickly learned though, how difficult it is to bring two kids out of the house on my own, and gradually, as Sam required more routine (especially for sleeping) learning to manage two kids became really really difficult.
I vividly remember this one time that shook me so much, I avoided leaving the house for weeks afterward. I took both kids to the playground at Rockwood when Sam was maybe 2 months old. There were several daycare groups at the playground at the time, so there were dozens of adults and kids running around everywhere. Charlie, being only two, climbed to the top of a slide structure only to get too scared to come down, while a lineup formed behind him. He couldn't maneuver to turn himself around and climb down, and he started to panic and cried for me. I watched helplessly as I tried to figure out if I was comfortable leaving my infant alone on the ground in the stroller with this many people at the playground in order to scale the structure to get him. I had a moment of intense anxiety and panic, and then I was rescued by the 5 year old daughter of a friend. She came out of nowhere and held Charlie's hand, helped him back down and then played with him until we left. My relief was so intense, I cried. If a playground could render me desperate and helpless, how would I ever be able to leave the house again comfortably with both of them? How could I keep them both safe? How could I give one of them what they needed without ignoring the needs of the other?
This was a really difficult adjustment, and I didn't handle it very well for awhile. If you are like me, when you are still trying to get the hang of something and you are low on sleep and adult interaction, you feel like a failure. I cried a lot. I drank a lot of coffee. But life goes on, and after awhile we did get back out there.
I guess maybe the moral of the story is that sometimes things are just hard. Even things you think you are prepared for. I'd already had a baby, so I thought I knew what I was in for, but I was surprised at how much there was to learn this time around. Just keep going, and feel comfort in the knowledge that it's not just you. I adjusted, tried some new things and ultimately figured it out, and now (I think) we are flourishing. Our days look different now, but it's been a process of figuring out what makes us comfortable and allows me control over them when needed to keep us all safe and happy.
Yesterday morning we got off to a rough start, but in the afternoon my kids napped together and I was super productive in a quiet house. I even drank a hot coffee. When they woke up refreshed and happy, the tantrums from the morning were a distant memory.