People always think that once you’ve had your first child, you’ve got parenting down. That you know what you’re doing. None of those first time parent doubts, or freak outs. That you’ll somehow have it down to a science because, well you’ve done this before. While I definitely feel more confidant, less rattled, and more ready for what comes next with my newborn, I have something else I didn’t have last time. My five year old.
Being a parent to two kids is almost as world rocking as being a first time parent. Even having my husband home with me these last five weeks it’s been a trial some days. Often we split off into different camps- My husband and my elder daughter doing one thing, myself and our baby girl doing another. We don’t entirely choose to split the girls up that way, it just works out. Our 5 year old wants to be active and play games with her father, our baby wants mom. What can you do? Sometimes, this is hard for me. To be in charge of the baby things. Because I miss my 5 year old.
I can’t quite explain the feeling. She hasn’t gone anywhere, she hasn’t been replaced by her sister. I can see her, sit right by her, and still miss her. She doesn’t have all of my attention anymore. I have to split it. Then there are the times where I’ve been up for 18 hours and I don’t have the energy or the patience for what she wants to do. Her father steps in wonderfully in those moments, but I still feel bad later. It’s also hard to remember that even though she can do so much more than her baby sister, she’s still very young and she still needs help sometimes.
Sometimes I’m bouncing a baby in one arm and grabbing a drink for my 5yo with the other. The multitasking is insane already, and it’s only been one month, and I’ve had my husband with me 99% of the time they’re both up. The most terrifying thought to me right now is going to the grocery store with them solo. I know it’s coming, I know I’ll have to, I’m trying to pretend it won’t. For my own sanity. In some ways the 5 year age gap makes things much easier. I only have one with bottles and diapers, one that can’t tell me what they want, and one that is self entertained at least 60% of the time. Those things are really helpful. My older one will also run and grab a diaper, give the baby her pacifier back, or rock her car seat while I put my shoes on so we can leave. But there are also things that are still a struggle.
I wish I could contain my 5yo like my baby. Occasionally she’ll sit in the shopping cart at the store, but she’s very long and quickly getting too big for that even. She’s also very fast or doesn’t always pay attention. I’ll be contemplating which pasta to buy and she’ll run down the aisle because she saw a dinosaur sandwich cutter 🙄. I can’t run by myself. I’m like a fish out of water trying to swim on land, it’s just pitiful. Running while holding a baby is whole other level that I don’t think I’ll ever attain. So having to chase down a child seems like an impossible feat at this point. She will outrun me. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. At the moment she seems to like being near me 🤷🏼♀️
There’s no easy way to add a child to your family, there’s no perfect time. Each situation has its own struggles and moments that will make you want to give up. There will be days where you wonder why you made this decision. You will always have your hands full, and often they may overfill. I think that every parent feels that way at some point, and I am definitely no different. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.