Transitional Mom: Becoming a Mother of Two

When my son was born five months ago, I expected to be a seasoned, confident mother. I had been mothering his sister for four years, after all, so I thought I had this parenting thing down. And, in some ways, I did feel more sure of myself. I skipped over many of the blunders and anxieties that I experienced as a first time mom. But, in one very important way, I was a new parent. I was learning to be a mother of two.

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In the first weeks, this learning curve was steep and intense. On the good days, I felt like I was clawing my way up the sheer, unforgiving face of motherhood — fingers bleeding, teeth clenched, but still hanging on, determined and strong. On the bad days, I felt myself in an endless free fall — hair stuck to my tear streaked face and weighed down by guilt, resistance to change and the fear that my children would only see me as a frenetic person in transition rather than the mother that takes the time to adore and enjoy them. The trial and error of this stage in my mothering made me — a person not prone to crying — end (or begin) some days in tears. On the days when I didn’t cry, I was often thisclose and only saved by a handful of graham crackers, a well-timed hug or an early bedtime. Some days, I got so mixed up from wanting time to speed up or slow down or reverse entirely that my head would swim. Some days, I was pretty sure my heart would shatter into a thousand pieces. And, some days, it did.

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In the beginning, this emotional roller coaster felt so wrong. It scared me. It made me feel like I was failing my family. Like I just wasn’t “getting it”. But, five months in, I’m starting to think that these feelings are…just normal. I’m starting to think that no matter how you do it, motherhood — new or not — is just one of the hardest darn things you will ever do.

 

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Like childbirth, mothering is full of tearful moments. Little losses of dignity. And the overwhelming fear during transition that you are just not going to make it. But, you survive these fits and starts. This stretching of your self. You bravely cast off your old lifestyle to welcome with trembling hands your new, terrifyingly glorious life. And, in the quiet of your mind, you marvel at the fragility and the durability of it all.

 

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As a still new mother of two, I’ve learned to accept that the dinners I make are rather boring, that there is a pile of laundry constantly waiting to be folded, that some days (weeks?) we don’t leave our neighborhood and that taking a 3 minute shower while singing to entertain my children is better than not washing at all. I’ve had to accept that my daughter is going call out for help on the potty the very moment my son falls asleep in my arms. Or that my son is going to wake up from a nap the instant I sit down to read a book to my daughter. Or that both kids are going to meltdown when my husband and I try to have a conversation beyond the quick exchange about diapers or groceries or who fed the fish. Loving three people is easy. But, meeting all of their needs, at the same time, is not.

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But, I have created two people. Grown them inside of me. Fed them from my body. Watched their little lives, so healthy and strong, unfold each day. And, that is no small thing. No wonder to be overlooked. No miracle to be overshadowed by a messy house or an ill-timed need.

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I have made someone a sister. Someone a brother. Two people will share a childhood — and maybe a few expensive therapy bills — because of me. I have given two people a gift that no one else could: each other.

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I am caring for young children. And, as much as I’d like to, I am not doing it right every day. No one in this house is getting as much of me as they want. Or as much of me as I want to give them. And I struggle with that. I wrestle with that. Sometimes, I get a roundhouse kick to the face by that. But, I know that I am starting to win more rounds than I lose. And I know that I am trying, with every beat of my heart, to be someone they can look up to, even when the chips are down.

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The extraordinary difficulty of the last few months will not last. Just as quickly as the tiny clothes my boy is outgrowing have been packed away, these tough moments will soon be distant, even funny, memories. And, with any luck, from them a lasting bond will emerge. I catch glimpses of it in Rhys’ face, as it lights up when he sees Maren.

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Or when Maren bursts into tears because she is worried that her brother is crying.

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Or when we read stories in bed or share a laugh together.

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In split seconds, I am filled with the love that is here in this house. And, out of the corner of my eye, I have visions of the love that is yet to come.
  

It is no ordinary love.

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It is a love that makes me proud.

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A love that makes me thankful.
Grateful for the gift these two have given me.
By breaking me down, they are building me into something better than I was before.
Something bigger than I ever could have been without them.
These two have made me their mama.

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Sarah Scott is an Occupational Therapist turned stay at home mom of two. Passionate about mothering, photography, travel and living an intentional life, she muses on the growing pains, little victories and simple joys of   motherhood on her blog, The Salad Days.


18 thoughts on “Transitional Mom: Becoming a Mother of Two”

  1. Thank you so much for this. Your words and family are lovely. We’ve been debating starting a new journey with a second child and it’s nice to know that it can come together even if it is an uphill climb.

  2. thank you for putting into words the painfully beautiful process of becoming a mother of 2. I needed to read this today!

  3. I couldn’t have written this better. You really captured the complex emotions that come with parenting and juggling life as a mom and I thank you so very much for that.

  4. this was truly inspiring as i myself have been having doubts and concerns about having a second but after reading this i feel so much more confident. thank you so much for sharing. and how humbling and reasurring as i also had the thought ah, the second,i have one 4 year old, it will be a breeze. thanks for opening my eyes before and giving me a good dose of reality and a heads up before it reared it’s fierceness in all of it’s glory and i was found panicking with all of us in fits of tears. to know it is to be expected somehow makes me feel better :) thanks.

  5. Such beautiful words (and photography)! I happened to read this on the very day I was contemplating having a second child. It’s hard to find real, honest stories about adding children to your family so I really appreciate your candidness.

  6. Two kids is hard yes but try having 3-my 3 are 16 months apart all in a row. Parenting is really just a hobby until you are outnumbered.

  7. Wonderful story. Made me cry because I am currently going through this transition with a 2 year old and 3 month old. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. phew, i am right there sharing this painful yet amazing time with 4-mo and 4-yr boys. i knew it would be tough but not in the ways i thought. yes, i’m tired, yes, fewer things get done but the emotional turmoil is what far surpassed my expectations. having to let go just a little bit more of my older child, not being able to hold on long enough to those precious moments with my youngest. i’ve never felt so raw in my life, glad to know i’m not alone :)

  9. Beautiful and describes exactly how I felt when I became a mom of two! I also realized that no matter how many kids I’ll have, it will always be hard! My daughter is 4.5 and my son is 20 months, they adore each other :)

  10. I loved that what you say about creating two people, it is a huge accomplishment! And I also loved that you said, no one gets enough of me, that’s exactly how I feel, I have a 21m and a 4m and both of them as well as my partner would like like more cuddling time with Mama :( And I want nothing more than to satisfy each one of them completely, but I can’t.

  11. After the chaos of today, and then the quiet of tucking my 4mo and 4yo boys into bed, this is just what I needed to read today. Thank you.

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