Monday, November 28, 2011

It's attitudinal.

It's kind of amazing how things happen without you even noticing. You turn around and suddenly your whole world is different. That happened to us. We had baby #2 and we were struggling at first. But then, out of nowhere, this derailed mama got her groove back. Figuring out how to wrangle two under two on my own** was no easy feat but over the past two months I think I've more or less sussed it out. Mostly, it's "attitudinal." I am not sure that's even a word but someone said it to me recently and I realize this is how I live my entire life. 

What that means is, I decide something is a certain way, and that's that. It just is. Some crazy things I have convinced myself of:
  • It is easy to drive hours at a stretch with a newborn and a toddler and I am able to do this by myself regularly. They nap, right? And when they don't, I can just play "Elmo's Song" on repeat until we get there (true story).
  • It is easy to go food shopping with a newborn and a toddler and I am able to do this weekly. After all, it gets us outside. It's almost as good as the park, right? 
  • It is easy to go to a restaurant with a newborn and a toddler at any time of day and not annoy anyone there. After all, hungry babies are people too and they need to eat just like everyone else, no matter how loud they are.
  • It is easy to have a full-time job and two small children and to be a control freak about everything else in my life and expect it to get all done because I know other people who do it or at least who pretend they do. 
  • I have "easy" babies. Me racing insanely to pick them up before they cry, wearing them for hours on end, nursing half the night, going to them again and again and again at night (or making Johnny get up to do the same) until they grow out of whatever "challenge" they are currently in, having so much patience with them that I then turn around and take out my pent-up frustration on my poor innocent husband or really, any random passerby, has nothing to do with them acting "easy." 
  • Dishes and other household chores are relaxing. It's "me time," right?
  • I don't need more than five hours of sleep. What? It's only 10:30 pm and both babies are sleeping? Here's a list of things to get done before bed, what am I waiting for? How can I even think about sleep? 
Crazy, I know. But I really do believe all of these and therefore I am able to do them. Except maybe that last one. I don't really believe that I only need five hours of sleep, but I do it. I am happily living that lie. 

Somehow, it all gets done. Somehow I still have time to smother my girls with kisses and hugs, to make sure we read or sit on the potty or linger at the table over diluted juice and dry granola (that I had time to make from scratch (yeah!!) thanks to an easy recipe a friend shared). It helps that Thora is a lot less clingy now, less intensely focused on Mama. We try to have some special Mama-Thora time every day, which is wonderful for both of us. And we both reap the rewards long afterwards. After some Mama time, she will allow herself to get absorbed in things other than me. She can play by herself again. And Daddy can successfully distract her away from me a lot of the time. She doesn't freak out when I nurse Freyja anymore. And even better, I don't freak out when she needs the pinky because that just is what it is. We are in synch again.

But when our usual tricks don't work and we're all at our boiling points and there are two crying babies and two grouchy parents, someone, and by someone I mean my husband, will invariably say "Everybody now! Sing along!" and that's my cue. We're going outside.

We go outside every day. Rain or shine. What's that USPS motto on the Post Office on 8th Ave? "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Yeah, we're like that too. After living in Iceland where "it's freezing out!" is the lamest excuse ever for staying in, I don't let weather or anything else keep us from getting some fresh New York City air every day.

Planning on having two under two? I bet you think there's no better place to hide than home. This is not so. Get outside! I promise, it helps. (Rather, I promise it helps us. I don't know about you.) Here are a few things to remember when you're out and about with them on your own:
  1. Go on now, go. Walk out the door. But if you actually have a destination in mind, leave early and assume you will arrive late.
  2. Go slow and bring a lot of diapers. Forget changes of clothes, creams, bags, toys and the zillions of useless items I toted around in the diaper bag when Thora was an infant. Now there are two but the diaper bag hasn't gotten any bigger. Diapers, wipes and snacks are crucial. Maybe a spare change of pants. The rest just makes the bag too heavy and the diapers too hard to find when you really need 'em. And when the baby poops at the worst possible time (when is a good time?) while your hands are full with bags and the toddler is absorbed in hugging a tree, just breathe and find a bathroom. This could take a while, but so what?
  3. Pick your battles. Wear the baby and let your toddler walk until she's too tired to argue (see #1).
  4. Think small. If you accomplish half of what you might have in your singleton days, that is a major victory. Be proud of every trip to the mailbox! (Ours is maybe 25 feet from our front door, but some days that is a major accomplishment.) 
  5. Resist the urge to smack people who say "Wow, you're brave" or "Looks like you've got your hands full there!" Or worse, when you're squatting in the middle of the sidewalk with your toddler, watching a brave squirrel eat the granola she accidentally dropped and trying to make it a "teachable moment" about city wildlife, resist the urge to scream at the woman who almost ran you down with her own stroller and two kids, yelling to her daughter "Goddamn white people think they own the sidewalk." (Yes, this really happened.) Sadly, that too was a teachable moment (to her), and that's what kept me from saying anything. Why make it worse?
And if you do manage to get out, here are some of the things you might see***:

Want to feel like someone loves you unconditionally? Get your kid to do this:

Go Thora, go, go go!

Dancing to the DJ at Mile 21 of the NYC Marathon

Learning to use an umbrella.

Sledding for the first time.

(**I am not on my own. I am so grateful that I have a partner in this and that most of the time we share the load. But I knew I had to get good at handling the two of them alone before I could ask him to do it, and he is a SAHD, so I tried extra hard to master this well in advance of my return to work, which signified the start of him caring for the two girls all by himself.)

(***Photos and videos are decidedly of toddler only, See #3 re wearing the baby. Not photographable when she's wrapped to the photographer's chest, but she was present at each of these outings, scout's honor!)

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to print this and stick it in my nightstand for February, when our next arrives. I'm already terrified.


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