The first 3 weeks with 2 kids
One of the biggest contradictions about parenting is how much you want a particularly phase to pass without having time go by. The two kids under two thing is a game changer and life is NUTS and yet I want time to stand still without them getting a day older. There are some days that feel totally daunting, and some days that feel doable, but never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever will I say its ‘easy’. NO. It ain’t easy. I’ve been trying to put my mind around what exactly is so challenging about it and I think that a lot of it has to do with the age difference, or lack therof and how young they both are. After you have a baby (at least after I have a baby) your brain is kinda mushier than normal. It feels drained, depleted and soggy, where coming up with a simple coherent sentence can be difficult. It’s shocking. Maternity leave exists not just so you can bond with baby and adjust to motherhood but also so your brain/emotions can recover and your cells can be repaired.
So when that kind of brain comes up against an almost two year old that a. really wants his mommy’s attention and b. is too young to entertain himself, life becomes extra challenging and exhausting. If I could just plop him in front of the TV everything would be GREAT. It’s the constant activity and entertaining that is hard. And don’t get me STARTED on sleeping. HA. When one goes down the other wakes up. My little angel, Elliot, wants to sleep on top of my chest or in my arms at all times (which is legitimately wonderful, but certainly not a good habit for me to get into, right??) and yet she is still a night owl. Then Charlie is doing the early shift with 6:15 wake ups. Its like they are playing a cruel game of tag against us. And they are winning.
But amongst the baby brain and the sleep exhaustion its still wonderful in a way that only parents of young children can understand. These two beings and their dad are my total world and having a family, chaotic or not, is all its cracked up to be. We go out for family dinners every Friday night (pizza/pasta/beer) and its kind of everything that I ever dreamt of. Sure, our ‘night out’ starts at 5:30pm, and I’m at the restaurant struggling to get a newborn to latch under my nursing apron while Charlie is running around adorably bothering other patrons. Brian and I can in no way finish a conversation let alone catch up personally with each other. But somehow its still great. I think the chaos of two kids has a magic about it that can make you feel so young and old at the same time. These are the dinners that I will remember for our entire lives – lives which are flying by WAY too fast these days.
I went back to work this week for a big 4 day Target shoot and brought Elliot with me, which was crazy and wonderful (I brought our nanny to help while I was shooting and Brian watched Charlie all week). My friends/assistants watched me all day, every day schlepping, pumping, freezing, nursing, storing, rocking, shushing, etc, etc. Then when we got in the car and she was screaming I started singing, shaking the seat, more shushing and moaning, blah blah. Scott, while driving, said, in an exasperated and totally shocked tone ‘OH MY GOD. BABIES!!!!!!!!’. He had just had it. Yes. He’s right. OMG babies!! …. The amount of work becomes second nature where you don’t even notice that you haven’t stopped.
Oh, but I love a newborn. I really do. Besides the sleep thing I could take every single second of this and bottle it up forever. They are just so gushy and cuddly, and every day there is a new movement or tiny expression for you to savor and obsess over. They are so helpless and innocent – instant perspective givers and stress takers. That’s right – newborns are more work, but in my opinion reduce your stress. The second I get off set to hold her I calm down a bit because really nothing else matters. I could fail at everything in my life, but as long as I have my kids and my marriage, it will be fine and even good.
I keep getting the ‘how are you doing?’ and ‘how exactly are you doing it?’ questions. The answer is I’m hanging in there and some days I’m even doing GREAT because I have so much help on all fronts. No super mom here. Brian is still the most attentive/present father in the world. Our family is so lucky to have him. He takes the early shift so I can sleep til 8am and knows how to pack a baby bag better than I do. We have a nanny 4 days a week (which I just desperately upped to 5 starting in January). Sure, I’m pretty busy with work and Brian is back working, too, but you’d think that between the 3 of us we’d be killing it and have it all under control. But as most of you parents know it doesn’t matter how many nannies, sitters, grandparents you have, if you are around your children want YOU. Don’t get me wrong, it helps an enormous amount, too. All of you who care for your kids (one or more) without help all day, ever day are incredible and I’m not sure how you stay sane. Maybe none of us are. Our nanny takes Charlie to the park, his preschool class, Kids Space, etc and has kept his life fairly routine which has been great for him and has given me time to cuddle and bond with Elliot.
On the work front Brady, Sara and Ginny are keeping the blog and company alive and thriving while I’m doing more of the high level concepting, writing and of course anything on camera. I try to answer emails on my phone while nursing and I write the blog posts that I do write, after Charlie goes to bed (or in this case in the car on the way to set, with Elliot sleeping and the Uber driving thinking ‘what is this lady doing with her baby in a car for an hour and a half commute . “)… Thanks for sticking with us during my maternity leave, guys. I know the content changes a bit and there is less of me, but that’s just the way it has to be for a while. (Next week we have less makeover takeover and a couple shelter reveal posts, a design mistake and some outtakes from a recent fashion shoot). GrammarGate cracked me up – (even though I didn’t even write that post!!!) because we are human beings, over here scrambling to stay on top of things, and yes, some apostrophes are going in inappropriate places which can be certainly annoying to look it (its not an excuse, but it is the reason). Lesson learned. Y’all spoke up and now everyone is TERRIFIED to push publish without like 6 random strangers with doctorates in linguistics reading over each sentence. Bare with us, I think a copy editor is starting next week. Lets hope this one sticks.
That’s how “I’m doing it” – by having a lot of other people helping me constantly to “do it, ” basically. I’m not a super mom doing everyone on my own, but I am surviving thanks to a lot of people helping out. Sometimes even ‘surviving’ seems like a feat and just getting through the day seems like an accomplishment.
Despite how tired and overwhelmed I sound life is really good and most of the day is actually even fun. Once I get a coffee down my coffee hole, the morning is doable. And once I sit down to conquer my emails, I can get back into work mode. Once Charlie heads out to the park he’s so happy without us. Charlie likes Elliot a lot. He gets really sad about me being gone right now and has shown sadness with Elliot getting our attention, but he’s taking it out more on me than her, which I think is a good thing. I can’t wait til they are 3 and 5 and can really play together, and yet I can wait. I know that these years may be the most chaotic (I hope these are the most chaotic) but I certainly don’t want them to be sped up.
Every day is like watching an epic 3 hour musical that you’ve loved FOREVER (think Les Mis). As much as you know and love every word of every song, you are ready for the intermission when it comes. And hopefully there is a glass of wine waiting for you at the concession stand.
Happy Friday, folks
* First photo by Tessa Neustadt. Photo of me reading with the kids by Stephanie Todaro. Photo of Elliot and I in the office by Jess Issac