Today I am writing from a very vulnerable and raw place. What I am about to share with you isn't perfectly thought out or even digested yet. It's a work in progress.
Most of the time when I write to you from a personal place, some time has passed between the event that happened and the present time, meaning I had enough time to think about it and formulate some sense out of it.
This post, more than anything, is simply a recognition of how damn hard motherhood can be sometimes.
A week and a half ago, my husband Raz went to Iceland for my brother's bachelor party. He asked me before Hendrix was born if it would be ok for him to go knowing that Hendrix would only be somewhere around 6 weeks. My response was basically "No problem. Definitely go! I can take care of the two boys. Women do it all the time."
Until his departure, Raz had been on paternity leave and so we have been managing Felix and Hendrix together.
When it was the two of us, I didn't feel like having two was that much harder than just having one. Little did I know what kind of storm was about to erupt.
The first two days actually went pretty smoothly. The boys even napped around the same time and our days were filled with the usual cuddles, lego structures and truck obsessions. It was definitely a lot more work, but it was fine and felt pretty peaceful overall.
Then, day 3 of Raz being gone started and I got a taste of why people say that having two is SO MUCH HARDER than having one. The whole day consisted to one meltdown after another and sometimes three meltdowns all at once (yes, that includes me!).
The hardest part was that now that I am nursing Hendrix, I am confined to my seat for longish stretches every day and cannot run after Felix. And believe me, at the ripe age of 2, he had no interest in listening to his mama. If I said "no" or asked him to stop doing something, he immediately started testing me. He gave me this cheeky smirk over his shoulder (that I usually find pretty endearing) and did exactly what I told him not to do again and again... and again.
No matter how firmly and calmly I spoke and looked at him, no matter what tricks I pulled out my sleeve to try and distract him, there was just no stopping him that day.
Things reached its peak when he unlocked and opened the balcony door and started climbing up the railing, which is obviously super dangerous (& he knows not to do it, because his dad and I have told him many times).
I finally had to tear Hendrix off my boob mid let-down (if you don't know what that is, it's when you milk releases and comes spraying out super fast) and tear Felix down from the railing with all my strength because of course he had his strong little fingers clenched around that railing like his life depended on it. Once I got him off, a massive meltdown followed on his part while I was trying to finish feeding Hendrix who was also screaming at the top of his lungs.
The whole day was filled with Felix testing me, me trying to be firm in the boundaries I establish and teaching him that "No" actually means "No," Felix ignoring it all, me getting super frustrated -actually scratch that, by the afternoon I was a raging version of my usually pretty calm self- Felix having another meltdown, me feeling crazy guilty for having yelled so much and Hendrix losing his sh*t every time I dared to put him down anywhere that wasn't directly on my body and preferably on my boob.
I tried to remind myself that this was a massive transition for Felix as well and that he was acting out because he wants my attention.
I tried to calm myself down by imagining what it's like to have your mama to yourself for your whole life and then suddenly have to share her with someone else.
I tried to remember how grateful I am that Felix is so loving and welcoming to Hendrix.
I know these things and yet, on that day, knowing any of this just didn't help.
I, and really all of us, were an emotional mess by mid afternoon.
I am going to spare you the details of what bedtime looked like that day, because I think you get the picture.
It was an incredibly hard day.
By the time I had them both down about 1.5 hours past their bedtime, I was so exhausted, my eyes were dry and red, and this yucky feeling of shame and guilt came creeping in like a dark cloud nesting into my throat and chest like a massive black rock. This feeling was much worse than any of the rage I felt during the day.
I have felt mom guilt before (of course), but nothing even close to how I felt that evening.
This is what my thoughts sounded like as I snuggled up on the couch with a glass of wine:
I am a terrible mom. Maybe I am not cut out for motherhood after all? Do we have more wine in the fridge? Is it always going to be like that from now on? I cannot do this. I miss being with Felix and being able to give him all of my attention. Poor little Hendrix for being exposed to this crazy energy so early on. I love these kids so much, it hurts. How could I lose my temper like that? I should always stock ice-cream. I miss my easy, carefree life before kids. What happened to the harmony in this home that I love and value so much? I suck.
I felt so terrible for how much I yelled at Felix and for how harsh I grabbed his arm a few times that day. This kind of stuff never happened when he was my only one. I never felt like I had to apologize to him for my behavior (which I did before he went to sleep). He must have been so confused about what happened to his mama. Thinking about that broke my heart.
The truth is that I hadn't felt that much rage since my teenage years. I didn't think I could even feel that much anger anymore. In fact, I had forgotten how that even felt. So all consuming and uncontrollable and now that I am a mom this comes back?! Wtf?! I feel ashamed even writing this here and yet, it is the truth.
Now I know that teaching your kids boundaries is normal and necessary (especially when you're trying to save their lives by forcefully pulling them off a high railing) and that everything that happened that day is probably all too familiar to other second time moms, but when you're in it, it is the worst.
I laid down that night asking for help.
Asking to be calm inside regardless of the storm on the outside.
Asking for help to bring back the harmony I value so much.
Asking for a new rhythm that had room for all 3 of us to have a good time, get our needs met, feel like we have an appropriate amount of power and a voice that's heard.
Asking for support in digesting and releasing the dark emotions that came over me that day.
Over the next few days I figured out 3 things:
1. Starting your day off right is so crucial. For me that means saying YES to something Felix wants me to do even if it's not convenient and the dishes are piling up.
2. Finding a morning activity that allows all three of us to gain something. Right now that means that we'll go on a walk, so Hendrix can get a good nap in, Felix can look at diggers and various trucks (I mapped out a route that passes as many construction sites, train and fire stations as possible... my husband calls it the "digger safari" ;)) and I get to move and exercise a little bit, which is a huge balancer for me.
3. Felix needs to run around and burn some of his energy in the afternoon, so we go to a park, meet friends or take out his little red car for a spin while Hendrix gets another good nap in in the carrier.
SO, this is where we are now and I know that in just a few short weeks this will all change again but for now this seems to work for us and that is what matters.
I try to remind myself to be in the moment and go with the flow so I can adjust to the ever changing needs of babies and toddlers. Afterall, being present with them and their development and gaining joy from what is, is one of my highest goals.
If you're a mom and you're finding yourself in a similar adjustment space where things seem totally chaotic and crazy, know that you are not alone! There are so many of us out there navigating this path with you one day at a time.
Have you ever experienced anything like this. Let me know in the comments below.
Through this experience, my admiration for moms -really all moms, but especially moms of multiples- grew exponentially once again. And don't get me started on single mamas. I do not know how you do it. Chapeau.