Now I am a mum of 2 I finally get it!
After being a mum for six years, I started to feel quite confident about my parenting abilities i.e. how well I know my child and my ability to juggle motherhood with everything else. This notion totally lulled me into a false sense of security when having a second child! I thought I was ready…and also being a coach, felt I had the skills and insights that the shift from a family of 3 to 4 would take. Boy was I wrong!
You’d think that giving your existing child the gift of a sibling was one of the greatest things you could do as a parent, but the reality has been quite different!
All I have heard from my daughter since she was 4 years old is “why don’t I have a brother or a sister?” So now she has one, you would think she would feel so elated and be so eternally grateful, that she would behave beautifully, just knowing that her mum needs this from her most at this time. (Needless to say, with the advantage of my retrospectoscope, this may have been a lot to ask from a 5-and-a-half-year-old!). However, she instead decides this is the time to be her most difficult, most uncooperative, and quite frankly, most bratty self! Queen bee has not enjoyed being knocked off her throne! Whilst I know all this behaviour is perfectly normal, on a day to day basis, it’s really not very easy to take.
Over the past few months, I’ve heard it all from her...from one liners such as “I’ve gained a sibling and lost a parent” to “I wish I could go back in time, had I known what it would be like to have a brother maybe I would have made a different choice!” How is it that they know what to say to stab you in the heart at such a young age?!
There are so many things that no one tells you about when having a second child. I think if they did you may not have one! Here’s my attempt at demystifying it for you…
There is no/very little respite. Someone always wants or needs your attention and help.
The baby is so much easier as you’re are so much more relaxed – it is, in fact, the older child that sucks your energy out of you.
Your first child, who adored you, will now hate you for not having all your time and attention. They will transition from being adorable to a devil child, resulting in you also having feelings of hatred towards them.
Your older child’s behaviour combined with the added drama of your hormones and total exhaustion will make you feel like you are failing yourself and your children.
You will miss your eldest, even though you live with them, as you now get to spend much less time together as you are always with baby number two.
These last few months have also taught me so much:
The only way to survive and thrive is to cut yourself some slack and accept that it will be a shit show for a long time, until one day it isn’t.
The to do list is never ending but carving out time to do something for yourself regularly, big or small, is more important than ever and will keep you sane.
You need to become an expert at delegating and asking for help. This will require parking your ego, but it’s well worth it.
Family or friends who don’t have 2 children or more won’t necessarily understand how challenging it is, but that’s ok. I didn’t get it either until now. There are some things in life we just need to experience to understand.
In conclusion I agree with whoever it was that says it takes a village to raise a child. It really does. I’m not sure we are meant to be doing it in nuclear families.
Although it may not sound like it, underneath all of this, I do feel very blessed to have two beautiful, healthy children who have given me the opportunity to be a mother. Being a parent really is the best self-development tool in the world.
I am back to seeing clients this week and whilst the social media detox has been great, I’m excited to be back online, sharing my insights.
I would love to hear from you...what have you found most shocking/challenging in your motherhood journey so far?