Sunday, May 9, 2010

Growing your family - going from 1 to 2

Recently one of the mom's of my Ethiopian adoption yahoo group posed a question about the difficulties of going from one child to two. One of the other moms sent in this responce and I just thought it was very well put and fitting for Mother's Day. Here it is:

When Mother's of more than one say, going from one to two was the hardest, I don't think they really mean it was hard because everything doubled and they had this major adjustment. . . . Going from one child to two is the most difficult, because you've never experienced it before. Loving one child was easy, you didn't know what you didn't know, you figured it out as you went, you grew and you fell in love with this most perfect creature God ever created. Going from a single child to multiple is hard because all of a sudden the thought that you're about to destroy everything this child knows scares you to death. No longer will he be the center of attention, no longer will he have undivided attention, you're about to rock his world to the core and I spent more time crying over Brooklyn just before Nathan was born than any other thing in my past. It's normal.

We have five kids and I've often had moms say, "I don't know how you do it, I only have one and I'm worn out!" My response is always, "If you have one, you're just as busy a mom as I am with five. . . mostly." Really, the work load doesn't double, the tension doesn't double, the amount of time needed doesn't double. It's not that kind of math.

You're scared because you can't imagine loving anything else as much as you love your first child. Only because you haven't had the opportunity to experience it yet. It's frightening because you can't imagine any other child being as adorable and precious and perfect for you as this child, because you don't know what other areas of your life a child with different personalities and interests can spark and fill up further.

Your love grows, it doesn't get divided. The time and attention gets accommodated, not split. Children need the opportunity to learn so many life lessons, like priorities, sharing, patience, conflict resolution, compromise. Those lessons are best taught in the loving boundaries of the home, and the best and single fastest way to do that is through learning to be good siblings. I have often said my greatest joy of being a mother is watching my children be siblings. There is just nothing like it.

All of my friends that I've had these conversations with have felt this sense of doom and dread over the impending arrival of the second child like I did. Most of it wrapped up in worry for the first child's reaction and feelings about the new sib, but also a lot of it encompassed in feeling like you are only a good mom because it's somehow considered "easy" with just one, and if it gets tougher somehow you might not be as good a mom. Both of those are as far from the truth as possible. You'll figure it all out and you'll be amazing with 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 children, whatever God asks you to do, He also equips you to handle. By the time you're having your third, you understand how your love grows and how amazing siblings are, so you don't experience this doom sense, which is why I think people say it's hardest to go from one to two. And then, after your third and you've had to go from man to man to zone defense anyway, adding a fourth, fifth, or more, doesn't seem like that big a deal long term either.

You'll go through the adjustment period like any new mom and family. It will take a bit to figure out a new routine, and learn how to accommodate all the new needs. One rule we've had since B was born is that we made it a point that each of our children are part of our family, not the center of it. I treated B like a sibling even when she was the only child, because essentially she was a sister, we knew we were going to have more children. So when she would ask for juice, I would purposefully sometimes say, "Ok, mommy will get you juice in just a second. Let me finish up here." even if I just sat there counting to 20. When N was born and I couldn't jump up immediately, she was used to that, and there wasn't a sense of "he's taken all the time I used to get." I also stressed with all my kids the importance of being the big kid. I stressed all the things they got to do because they were big, and how babies, or "new kids to America" didn't get to do those things. . . my kids never wanted to regress and be the baby for attention, because being who they were was so much more appealing. You can begin to practice with your first child while you're in the paperchase. Ask the Holy Spirit for creative ways to begin acclimating him/her to siblinghood now. He'll give you some cool ideas.

Bottom line, it's extremely normal, and all based on feelings of the unknown. But once you "know" it through experience and living it, you'll realize it's all worth it! You can do it!

3 comments:

The Fortenberrys said...

I mostly agree with her well-put, beautifully written statement. However, while having a deployed husband for a year, the work is definitely doubled now that we have two. Avery is one and Kinsey is two and a half and there is definitely more work. There is also double the joy but there is more work involved. If I only had one, life would be rather simple because of the abilties of a 2.5 year. Schedules and needs are just more simple. Either way...you do manage and survive and love your babies the whole way through because you are called "Mother"!

Zack, Rebecca and Caleb Caldwell said...

Didn't you love all those responses :) Great to be part of a group like that!

Carpenters said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. I just had to comment because my daughter in on my lap loving the owls. She was pointing them all out. You have her vote of approval.