The other day I sat across from a mother of two who I had met through a local mom’s club. She didn’t know it, but I invited her over as a research subject. Yes, she was an interesting woman about my age. She even had attended my alma mater. And yes, I wanted to become friends. (I am always happy to find a good friend.) But my main motivation was to find out just how difficult it was to raise two children less than two years apart.
You see I had been struggling with the decision to have a second child. I’ve had baby fever ever since my first child started crawling at nine months but after discussing the prospect of a second child with other mothers of two (or more) I was taken aback by the unfavorable reviews. In fact, the most positive argument FOR having a second baby right away was “Yeah, get it over with. It will suck for the first few years, but after a while they’ll help entertain each other.”
Ouch. This is my life we’re talking about. The “get it over with” philosophy didn’t resonate with me, and I knew I couldn’t be alone. Primarily because so many people CHOOSE to do it. So I held on tightly to my optimism, smiled sympathetically at my new friend and popped the question, “So, how is it with two?”
Expecting complaints about the sleepless nights with a newborn followed by exhausting days chasing her toddler, I was delighted to hear her simple and calm answer, “It’s not nearly as bad as people said it would be … not bad at all,” she said.
This is the answer I had been searching for—the reason I had kept asking. It’s just too bad I had to ask so many people before hearing it. But, you know, this isn’t the first time I’ve found a silver lining in the dark cloud of motherhood.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard the mantra that, “No baby sleeps through the night.” Actually, mind does and has since about six weeks of age.
One mother told me the last thing I wanted was for my daughter to walk early. After months of agonizing about exactly what that meant, she started walking. She’s having more fun then ever and all I have to do is watch.
I’ve heard tales of horrible teething that went on for months without end. My daughter only struggled with the cutting of her first two teeth, a process that took about three days.
The list could go on, and the truth is every child and every mother is different. Maybe I am exceptionally blessed, but I prefer to think I just look at things differently.
So here’s my friendly warning to all first time moms and dads and moms-and-dads-to-be. I have learned by pure trial and error this first year of my daughter’s life not to trust the negative tales of woe I hear at playgroups, in chat rooms, and even in well-meaning parenting books, and magazines.
Every stage of life has its challenges and its blessings. Parenting is no exception. I empathize with other parents and am the first to admit that some days are hard. Real hard. But the good days outnumber and far outweigh them.
Just remember, the days are long but the months are short. As soon as they begin sleeping through the night, you’ll find yourself reminiscing about those 3 a.m. feedings. As soon as they begin crawling, you miss the hilarity of watching their eyes droop in the bouncy seat. Teething finally ends, and you realize how much you loved that two-teeth smile. And the list goes on … enjoy every moment for what it is—parenthood!