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Two kids are better than one

Zion is four weeks old today, and it seems like the time has passed rather effortlessly. When people ask me how I'm doing with two children, mostly I say "AWESOME!" Really, except for the fact that I haven't vacuumed the upstairs since the morning my water broke, and it's taking me more than a little while to get the food shopping schedule under control other than that I'm having a great time. I love being the mother of two.

Once when I was in college I had this awful migraine headache for like three days. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't even see straight. So I went to the health center and they told me it was a tension headache from stress. Then they gave me a shot in my butt. Literally, they gave me a shot of something in my butt cheek, I don't know what it was but I wish I did because I would totally buy it on the street. Because as soon as I got it I immediately fell asleep, and when I woke up my headache was gone. Gone! It was the most incredible feeling ever. I went from complete debilitating pain to totally lighter-than-air normal in what felt like the time it takes to clap your hands. It was amazing. Anyway, that's what it felt like to have a second child. It instantly killed my two-year parenting stress headache.

Look, I think I've been a pretty good mother to Harvey. I've tried to give him freedom to figure stuff out, make mistakes, get woefully dirty, pour water all over everything, break things, see animals, and interact with lots and lots of books. When other parents at the playground shoo their tots away from "big kid things" I give Harvey a hand to climb up the slide. But I have been woefully bad at giving him emotional space. I have loved him so big and so intently that I have held on rather tightly. This came through on issues such as co-sleeping and nursing. He needed a big-boy bed a month before he got one, and even then I cried and cried that I wasn't ready. He needed to learn how to put himself to sleep 6 months before I decided I could stand to hear him whine alone for 5 minutes. He needed to ween at 18 months and I should have given the opportunity then. But it was just too hard for me to let go.

Because what if the worst thing happened and he didn't show me every second that love me? Now I see that kids aren't supposed to love you like that. That's what a marriage is for. Kids are just kids.

When Harvey was an only child, the importance of our relationship rivaled that of mine and Dan's. Then Zion was born it ended the tyranny of our two dueling relationships. Suddenly it felt like Dan and I had KIDS. Together. Together we're parenting them (and not, like, dating them). I had been trying and failing to force myself into this model before, but somehow when Zion was born it just clicked.

Zion's birth seems to have re-balanced our family in a good way. It's impossible for Dan and me to fight over who's doing the most childcare, for example, because with two children we're both doing 100% child care for one of them all of the time. Zion's presence doesn't make regular life more stressful, apart from some added difficulty with vacuuming and leaving the house. In fact, because I'm attempting to do less and asking Harvey to do more for himself, it seems that Zion's arrival has made all of us more confident, more relaxed, and less tantrumy throughout the day. (On a parenting scale, of course, where stress and tantrums are a manner of scale.)

Anyway, for all these reasons I highly recommend becoming a mother of two. Happy one-month-when-counted-in-weeks birthday, Zion. I'm very very glad that you're here.


I really enjoyed this post, thank you! You've got me thinking about emotional space, as we're figuring out how to parent a one year old (which feels very different from parenting a baby, suddenly).

I also really like that space and healthier roles kinda just came upon you when Zion was born. That dynamics have their time and sometimes things change naturally, without your having to force them. Cool.

I don't think you were doing anything wrong before. I think it's a matter of expectations.

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