When I was pregnant with my second child I was pretty relaxed compared to being pregnant with my first. I didn’t obsess over which porta-crib had the best mobile, or whether or not I needed a diaper genie, or even what childbirth would be like. I knew that all that mattered was that the baby had onesies and diapers and I was ready. Or so I thought. Looking back, even though it was a bigger adjustment from no baby to one baby, going from one to two rocked my world more than I could have anticipated.
Before I could stare at my little baby and marvel at every little head nod and every sigh and every eye blink. “Aww…what a cute little blinker I have! Look how cute she is when she blinks”. I posted countless photos on Facebook of her cute little blinky eyes. Now, instead of staring at adorable baby eyeballs, I find myself staring at the ankle-deep puddles of milk that flood the living room carpet, or what appear to be ant hills made up from ground Cheerios filling up the space surrounding the tufted buttons on the couch cushions. I marvel at how a four-minute toddler mini-spree can result in a three-and-a-half hour clean-up job. I’m constantly on guard trying to make sure the baby’s little peepers aren’t poked out by her older sibling’s fingers or erratically waved fairy wands. I can not even imagine what will happen once the second one is able to walk. I know I’m living on borrowed time. Will the Cheerio-dust ant hills morph into massive termite mounds? Anything seems possible.
Before I hoped my baby would grow to be a passionate lover of books. Now I’m just crossing my fingers that Number Two will be semi-literate. Not only does it seem improbably difficult to physically sit on the couch and read for more than three minutes at a stretch, when we do we are rarely alone. Watch an infant try to garnish attention from an older sibling and you will quickly begin to question how accurate Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs is. Based on how Number Two responds to Number One, it would appear that feeling a sense of love and belonging with an older sibling far outweighs physiological needs such as eating or sleeping. If eating or sleeping aren’t top priorities during these times, you can best your ass that sustaining attention to board books when her older sister in the room is damn near impossible. It doesn’t matter how cute the little fuzzy bunny on the cover is. Sibling > board books. My next point might also have something to do with her potential pending illiteracy .
Before it was quiet a lot. Nowadays our household emits a ceaseless cacophony of child-rearing sounds. Between the Frozen soundtrack blaring from the T.V. (or from our smartphones, or our daughter’s Frozen watch, or her Frozen singing doll, or bursting from her own little Let it Go lips), the toddler stream-of-consciousness chatter that extends f
or 20 minutes stretches for 2 hour blocks of time to infinity and beyond, the periodic screams from me my husband my toddler of “Nooooo, I don’t wannnnnnt to”, the sanitizing swooshing from the dishwasher, the washing machine churning, the off-key singing of the Good Morning song and the Clean Up song and the Goodnight song and the endless shouts from one parent to another across the house of, “Will you throw me the wipes?” Or, “I need a burp cloth! Hurry!” or, “Why didn’t you replace the diapers down here?” I fear we’re giving her ADHD by way of auditory assault. And how the eff are we always out of one size diaper or the other at the downstairs changing table?
Before my house was clean. At least sometimes. Every parent knows that before and after kids there’s an inverse relationship between how much time you spend cleaning and how clean the house actually is. As far as I can tell, our carpeting will forevermore be littered with toys and half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches and mystery crumbs of various size and shape that I hope the toddler isn’t snacking on while I am not looking. Even though she balks at eating a quesadilla or a slice of peach, I know she probably is stuffing her face with the hidden, hardened little gems, so my real hope is that there isn’t some antibiotic resistant strain of bacterial film coating the tops of them. Even when the clutter is contained, an invisible infection-spreader remains. Children’s noses are basically miniature volcanoes that spew continuous secretions – gentle, fluid eruptions on some occasions, violent chunk-filled emissions on others. I often wonder if mucus glows green under a UV light, and if we were to do a mucosal forensic sweep, would our living room resemble a murder scene straight out of Dexter?
Before I could stay up until 11 p.m. On a lot of nights, not just on the really special occasions. Like the nights when I drink Merlot, eat Doritos in my pajamas, and watch Netflix episodes that aired four years ago.
Before I didn’t need the Amazon Prime coffee subscription. And I definitely didn’t need to keep increasing the order size. I got a new debit card the other day and before I realized I needed to update my payment method, my subscription got delayed two days and I do not have that kind of leeway built in! For two whole days I was in caffeination crisis mode, scouring the house for rogue coffee grounds while mentally swearing at the damn hackers who were responsible for me needing a new debit card in the first place. I even pulled out the rusted out coffee maker we use when we go camping in the pop-up. After that fiasco, I’m thinking it’s probably time to bump up that Amazon order again.
Before I thought that sometimes knew what I was doing. Number One we swaddled for four months, Number Two broke out of the sleep sack at two days old. Number One ate bottles out of the fridge, Number Two literally chokes and gags unless the bottle is freshly made with water at or around 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Number One liked to be rocked to sleep, Number Two thrashes and headbutts and whines until we lay her down in the crib to settle herself. I imagine the more children you have, and more you realize that none of us really control our children’s behavior as much as we would like to think.
Before I got my hair cut and dyed on a semi-regular basis. Even if that meant every six months. It was also usually brushed. Now if you see me on a weekend know that definitely has not been brushed since I got ready for work on Friday morning. It’s only been slightly disconcerting that I don’t think most people have noticed the difference.
Before it was possible to make it to all those workout classes I wanted to go to each week. All one of them. I manage to carve out some time for activities that don’t require a definitive time and place, like jogging or writing, but for some reason being able to attend one scheduled activity each week seems to require an alignment of Venus and Mars, that occurs seventeen days after the first full moon, that also coincides with a month containing an even number of days, as registered on the Julian calendar.
Before the last seven pounds just melted away. Okay, not really. But in comparison they came off faster than a crack whore’s panties. Now I have this permanent bulgey bit that I’m starting to think will hang slightly over the waistline of my jeans forever.
Before my heart was only half the size. It’s cliché, but it’s true. Parenting is an adventure that can be as marvelously (and scarily) intense as the fiery inferno at the center of the Sun. Just like atoms at the core of a star fuse and produce a larger entity, one with more heft, the addition of another child creates something different, something bigger. A touchy-feely sort of nuclear fusion occurs in the hearts of parents that causes emissions of energy and light, even amongst the occassional volatile flares, and it is tremendously more substantial than even that bulge.
I can not imagine what three must be like.