What having two kids looks like to me.

Today I ventured out on my own with both kids while my husband caught up on some work. With two kids, I can honestly say getting everyone out the door, looking somewhat socially presentable, fed, and packed is no small feat.

A woman and her husband approached me with their two kids as I was holding my youngest who is 3 months, and asked me with a smirk how I am handling two kids.

I am aware the socially acceptable answer is “We are doing amazing, everything is awesome.” But I thought about it before answering and decided to be honest instead. I told them it was hard and sometimes brutal but we are adjusting and every day gets a little bit easier.

This question gets posed to me quite a bit and this time it got me thinking, what does having two kids look like to me?

It looks like temper tantrums and little feet stomping off down the hall to slam a bedroom door.

It looks like little feet shuffling back through the hallway to apologize for said tantrum and hugs to make it better.

It looks like baby cries in the middle of the night and bleary eyes struggling to stay awake during night feedings.

It looks like little smiles when baby sees you for the very first time in the morning.

It looks like dishes in the sink, spilt milk on the table, homework to be done, a whining baby, a whining 5 year old, and sanity running low.

It looks like snuggles on the couch from them both for even just a few minutes.

It looks like the 5 year old in the babies face constantly trying to make her laugh but instead making her cry.

It looks like the two of them laying on the floor smiling, giggling, and cooing at each other.

It looks like two cups of coffee in the morning.

And a glass of wine before bed (for me).

It looks like trying to stay up to hang out with your husband after the kids go to bed but passing out on the couch at 8:30 because you’re just too damn tired to stay up any later.

It looks like tears of frustration.

And tears of joy.

It looks like a mom and dad who need a date night every once in awhile or to get out just to take a breather.

It looks like everyone piled in our bed on a Sunday morning.

It looks and feels like a balancing act, some days I feel as though we’ve got the hang of it and we’re on the upside. Some days I feel as though I haven’t quite figured it out.

Mostly to me, it looks like love.

An open letter to my firstborn- Some days I may fail you.

Tonight as your daddy was in your sister’s room rocking her to sleep, I laid next to you on the couch. You were babbling about one of your dolls and I tuned out as I so often do, but this time it was for a different reason.

I stared at your little curly q hairs that had escaped your pony tail and framed your little forehead. I took in the freckles that dotted your cheeks- pink from playing out in the sun, and I watched your pretty blue eyes dance from one object to the next for as long as your attention would hold, and I realized I am failing you. I realized I hadn’t looked at you, really looked at you in a long time. In case I don’t tell you enough- you are beautiful.

I tuned back into the conversation you thought you were having with me to begin with and you were rambling about dinosaurs and how they are “Extinct, mama!” Extinct? When did you learn to use such big words for a 5 year old? Weren’t you just barely saying regular words correctly the other day? Where has time gone? In case I don’t tell you enough- you are so smart.

Tonight I realized that I don’t nearly take enough time to really pay attention to you. I’ve been so quick to just smile and nod and “Yes, sure honey” that I never take the time to really listen to you, not just hear you. I haven’t taken the time to really understand who you are becoming as a person.

It’s become even harder with the birth of your baby sister. I’m not able to always watch you show me your latest trick or get you that glass of milk you’ve asked for 3 times already, because I have to attend to your sister’s needs and right now she is VERY needy. If I’m being honest with you, two of you little munchkins is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

You, you were my first born. My first baby. I was a baby myself when I had you. We were “Growing up together” for awhile there. We had an unbreakable bond. I watched your every move so intently, I knew you like the back of my hand.

Somewhere in the chaos of spit up and baby wails and dirty diapers- I lost you.

I am so sorry for that.

Its no wonder though that you have been a little more defiant and a little more willing to test the boundaries (with only me, of course) lately- often episodes of tantrums ending with door slams and yelling from us both. You’ve been trying to let me know you need me too and those cries for attention have mostly gone unanswered or answered through anger when I should’ve excercised patience. In case I don’t tell you enough- I love you to the moon and back, even when we are mad at each other.

Tonight I really saw you for the first time in a long time and I made a promise to you and to myself that I would do better.

And I will.

But some days- I may fail you, please just know I’m trying.

Things that are less painful than dealing with Colic.

Five weeks ago my husband and I excitedly welcomed a very beautiful 8 pound baby girl into the world with high expectations. Our baby would sleep through the night, she would be an excellent eater, have zero health concerns, hardly ever cry, everything would be perfect and sunshine and rainbows and we would just be sucked into new baby bliss. Totally realistic right?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Absofuckinglutely wrong.

While we certainly love our little bundle of terror (I mean joy.) very much we should’ve known she wasn’t going to be an easy baby. I mean, the kid would not come out for anything. Not a damn thing- and believe me I tried everything. She had to be forced out of my womb with Pitocin and 13 long hours of labor and into this new foreign world where the first thing she saw were blinding lights and the first thing she felt was the cold air hit her new baby skin. So I can kind of see how maybe it might be a little jarring for her. However, at two weeks old we realized that she had taken that “confused new baby thing” to a whole new level when she began crying uncontrollably for literally no reason every day from 3:30 in the afternoon to 9 at night.

Yep, our baby had colic.

For those of you who don’t know what Colic is, it’s basically the doctor’s way of saying “We have absolutely no fucking clue why your baby won’t stop crying, but it won’t last forever (just until baby is about 3-4 months old), and good luck!”

We tried rocking her in our arms- screams. We tried walking with her- worked for 5 minutes-screams. We tried gripe water, and gas drops, changing formula, giving her reflux medication, music, the swing, the bouncer, a pacifier, everything just resulted in more wails from baby and eventually by the end of the night- my husband and I.  At 5 weeks now I wish I could say that we are through it and on the other side, but we aren’t yet. So, as a mom who is currently in the trenches,  I am trying to put a little humor in the situation and I’ve complied a list of things that are slightly less painful than dealing with Colic…

  • Getting stabbed in the eye repeatedly with a pencil.
  • Stepping on my 5 year old’s Legos (or other small but just as pointy toys).
  • Running- because I really freaking hate running.
  • Dieting- because I don’t like that either. Give me doughnuts, and cake. I like cake.
  • Listening to my neighbor’s annoying dog bark at 2 am while right outside our bedroom window.
  • Running out of coffee at 6 am when both your kids are demanding your attention and you can hardly keep your eyes open from being woken up 3 times in the middle of the night.
  • Trying to come up with a socially acceptable answer when people ask you how life with the new baby is. (The answer is she’s adorable when she isn’t crying and we love her more than anything but she turns into one of those little hairy gremlins in the afternoon so it’s mostly terrible.)

The truth is Colic sucks. There isn’t much you can do to console the tiny human you have been charged with keeping alive and happy and that is one of the worst feelings in the world. You want to make it better for them and for you but you just can’t, all you can do is hope that you all survive it with minimal damage to your sanity and to your baby. You’ll pour over websites dedicated to helping parents soothe their colicky babies and it won’t help. You’ll cry. You’ll argue with your spouse over who has better soothing technique or who gets a break while the other handles baby. You’ll cry. You’ll call your pediatrician a hundred times and get no real answers. You’ll cry. But then your baby will briefly smile at you  or stare into your eyes and all the frustration you have been feeling will melt away even if only for a few moments and you’ll feel like maybe you aren’t completely failing, and you will feel a little bit better.

There’s also coffee and wine. Those things will make you feel better too.