I didn’t write about it at the time, but Tim returned from a business trip to Hungary a couple weeks ago and at the risk of sounding incredibly un-feminist–I’m not entirely sure how I survived that week and a half without my husband.
Let me preface this by saying, I am not single parent material. Period. Tim and I make a great team and he’s an exceptional and involved father. For that I am very grateful, but when he leaves life gets… difficult. Like I’m suddenly missing a large and very valuable limb.
Case in point: Tim went to Montreal for a weekend WordCamp this summer, leaving Ellie and me (a very pregnant me, I might add) to our own devices. My mom came to help for part of the time, but mostly it was just the two of us, hanging out. I thought I was prepared for the chaos. I even dug out my giant childhood sticker collection and let Ellie have at it, thinking that would keep her busy for a while (and obviously forgetting most two-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat on crack.)
Sticker fun lasted about five minutes. Five minutes of peace–that summed up my weekend. Ellie refused to nap, so by the time Sunday evening rolled around she was alternately bouncing off the walls with giddy happiness and throwing herself on the floor in a fantastic tantrum–all in the span of maybe two minutes. At one point Tim Skyped us to see how things were going and, upon answering the video chat, was greeted with two sobbing females–one child, one adult, both at the end of their proverbial ropes. Let’s just say it was intense. I’m surprised he didn’t decide to stay in Canada permanently after that.
So that gives you an idea of how I fare when I parent alone–I’m basically on autopilot, and a pretty crappy autopilot at that. I’m less hormonal these days, sure, but now I have two children to think about–twice the chaos! Half the sleep! Continue reading
Gwen is 1 week old as of yesterday, and she’s a pretty mellow baby so far (knock on wood!) We wake her to eat and for the occasional diaper, but mostly she’s content to snooze in her co-sleeper or swing or in the wrap. It’s been nearly impossible to catch her with her eyes open (although I did manage it once.) I wonder if she’s saving her energy for a big showdown or if we’re just fortunate enough to have another one of those elusive “good sleepers.” Time will tell!
One thing that’s awesome: Not worrying about the little stuff. With Ellie we had to learn the basics–how to change a diaper, how to balance bottle and breastfeeding, how to swaddle, etc. What I’ve found the second time is, the routine comes naturally. I no longer ask myself, “Is this normal?” twenty-five times a day–maybe only three to five times a day. 🙂 Even the lack of sleep isn’t getting to me the same way it did the first time. The added confidence in my abilities makes this second-time-parent thing much easier!
I also feel more balanced, personally. I adore Gwen and take every opportunity to snuggle her (I’d forgotten just how perfect and teeny they are!) but I’m much less hesitant to put her down when I need time for me. I don’t have that frantic, intense “You’re killing the baby!” feeling when she cries. Not to say I’m not responsive, but I tend to her without a lot of unnecessary anxiety, and I think she’s calmer as a result. I’ve actually been eager to get back to work on my own projects, and have, if not with the same intensity. The creative distraction is good for me.
I’ve actually worried more about Ellie and her reaction to this transition in our family than I have about caring for Gwen. It’s so funny–when we brought Ellie home from the hospital, life was all about Ellie from that day forward. In bringing a second baby home, it’s still all about Ellie! Total first child syndrome there. But she’s reacted so much better than I’d hoped. There’s been a little acting out but nothing like what I’d feared. I have yet to see a jealous look or hear a jealous word. She’ll dote on “Baby Gwen” every chance she gets and has been so patient (as much as one can associate patience with a two-year-old) while mama and daddy adjust to juggling two.
More than once over the last week I’ve looked at Tim and said, “We make good kids.” And it’s true!