“Zero to one was tough, and two to three was challenging, but going from one child to two wasn’t that bad,” several friends told us with the benefit of hindsight, and perhaps a dose of selective amnesia. Intuitively, this makes sense. First-time parenthood is tough because there is so much to learn. And going from two to three is hard because sometimes you find that you have more little humans who need attention than arms at your disposal. Still, adding a new baby into the mix is bound to make life more complicated, and we’ve found that having two small children frequently feels much more than twice as difficult as just having one.
Posts tagged ‘pre-schooler’
For the first month of Junebug’s life, we followed a divide and conquer strategy. With D home on R&R and plenty of relatives visiting, balancing two kids was a manageable challenge. Newborns sleep a lot and are relatively portable, and with an endless stream of visitors who gave Munchkin the attention he covets and helped with the day-to-day household chores, the first four weeks flew by. We felt incredibly lucky to have had so much family support, but S was under no illusions about how daunting being home alone with both kids would be.
All good things come to an end, and the best, it seems, reach their conclusion faster than most. We’ve tried to stay in the moment these past six weeks – enjoying the summer in Maine, catching up with friends and family, savoring our last few weeks alone with Munchkin, and then soaking up the newborn snuggles after Junebug was born. Alas, we have run out of moments, and D has begun the return journey to Rwanda while S and the kids will remain stateside for another month.
Long summer days, the short northern nights made shorter still by interrupted sleep. The days run together, exhaustion and enjoyment converge, and the calendar grows increasingly more meaningless with each passing (or perhaps passed over) sleep cycle. Vacation at its best? Parenthood at its most painful?
“Oh no, Tigey! The big bad wolf is coming to eat us!” Munchkin squealed with delight, clutching his stuffed tiger as he cowered behind a couple of throw pillows on the couch. When D growled to be let into his makeshift house, Munchkin squealed even louder, giggling all the while. “Not by the hair of my chinny-chinny-chinny,” he exclaimed defiantly from under a pillow before making a beeline out of the room and screaming, “Run away! Run away! Run away!” A few minutes later, Munchkin donned his wolf costume, Halloween having come a few months early in our household, and the roles were reversed, with D cowering on the couch while Munchkin pretended to eat him.
Our worry that Munchkin might react negatively to the arrival of his baby sister stemmed partly from S’s late-night Internet trawling and partly from experience. S was four when her younger sister was born and, in lieu of exhibiting concern for her hungry cries, S urged her mother not to feed the newborn who had intruded into her heretofore-perfect family life. And when Munchkin was born, our pup Emmie wore her melancholy on her face, arching her eyebrows in a show of exaggerated sadness at seeing her playtime and share of our attention significantly reduced.
Having a newborn is a bit like entering the Twilight Zone. It’s not that one’s nights are completely sleepless, although that happens too. It’s more that sleep, when one is able to snatch some, is constantly interrupted, frequently during the deepest, most restorative portions. The accumulation of lost sleep wreaks havoc on one’s cognitive functions, which lends a surreal tinge to what is already an emotionally charged experience. The absence of variation in newborns’ eat-sleep-poop-cry routine completes the cognitive deconstruction. It only takes a couple of days to completely lose track of time, develop a tenuous, contentious relationship with one’s memory, and become so involved with the needs of one’s young child as to completely lose track of one’s own.
So here’s the game plan: We’ll tell Munchkin that he can come visit S in the hospital and we’ll take the baby out of the room. Then, after he is comfortable, we’ll bring Junebug in and introduce the siblings. We’ll also give Munchkin a small present and tell him that baby sister brought it. This way he won’t resent her for stealing S’s love and attention. The more plans S makes to frame events over which we have little control, the more apt the expression “Man makes plans and God laughs” grows. When Munchkin burst into the room for his first visit, S was breastfeeding while D snoozed in the corner, wholly unprepared to intercept the little man as he made a beeline for the bed.