I Didn’t Know It Would Be Like This

A huge part of the reason Anson and I held off for a long time before having another child (er…ummm…children) was that we were just really fulfilled with our family as it was.  Roan gave us ample challenges, and even more rewards.  Our relationship had its ups and downs, always going between being tested by having a child, and being saved by having a child.  Why would we mess with the balance?  We were just getting to this point where we could really have a lot of our independence back.  Roan’s own life was getting bigger by the day, and though he needed and wanted us to be present in a very constant way, he also was making big strides in defining himself without us.

So big. My first born.

And then one night, over wine and dinner at Frankie’s, I somehow moved my lips around the words, “I think we should think about thinking about talking about maybe sort of having another, you know….kid….”

And Anson, my poor husband, took a deep breath and laughed and reminded me of the first time he asked me out.  All nerves and stammering, with a funny way of speaking, and no way of getting the alcohol into his body fast enough.  After a glass and a little more of wine he finally answered me with, “Are you serious?”

And I was.  And after trial after trial we now have another kid.  And another kid.

Bringing Leg Warmers Back.

And I didn’t know it would be like this.

Before I had my twin boys, I tried to imagine loving more children in the way I love Roan.  I thought it would be the same but it’s not. It definitely isn’t less. It’s just – different.  I’ve found that the intense focus I had on Roan when he was born is less saturated with Smith and Sheppard.  I am able to leave them for a few hours without wanting to pull my heart out of my chest – but only if it is to have some intensive one-on-one time with Roan.  If I leave them for intensive “me time”, I actually do end up wanting to pull my heart out of my chest.  And also the boobs off my chest because they just ache so very much to feed those guys.

So in that way it is different.  My need to be with Roan hasn’t changed, though his need to be with me has.  Roan has ramped up the demands on his dad – wanting more time with him, boy time, and has become a fierce protector of his brothers.  He corrected me yesterday when I was worried that we’d been in the house too long and that maybe Roan needed to get out of the house because I never would have made him sit indoors this long, you know, before the babies.  So I suggested that we take a walk outside, though there has been a blizzard and the air is cold like crazy and we’d have to take the twins.  Roan shook his head at me and said, “Uh, well Mom, Smithy has a cough and I don’t really think he should be out there in that air.”  He kind of sounded like Tim Gunn when he said it and you know?  He was totally right.  And I felt a new guilt – that my young big kid son could see what was clear, but I could not.  So I started thinking.

In my self-imposed tornado of intent to make everything great for everyone in the family, I have extended so much energy out, and maybe too much away from my new boys.  I have loved them since I first heard them scream hello to this world.  But I have not been focused on them because I have answered my schizophrenic sense of who needs me right now who who who?  And so last night when I woke up with them I stopped the internal inventory of how much sleep I was loosing and how I could compensate for it the next day and just stared at these beautiful bright eyes.  Smith and Sheppard have focus.  They focus on me and have the most intent gaze (totally unrelated: my spellcheck just tried to change this word to “gays” which would change the tone of this post entirely) in the early morning hours that is a crime to rush past.  To stare at them, and see them staring back is gorgeous.  And now I’m finally staring – without guilt.  Allowing myself the time to stop.  And stare.

My house this morning is a mess.  I’m writing later than usual.  But I laid down on the carpet with my little boys this morning forever, and was rewarded with an innumerable amount of smiles and funny vowel sounding gibberish from them and I’ve found out 7 weeks down the road what I knew with Roan the first time.  As a new mother, I need to focus on my children.  I have to be ok with knowing that this is what I should be doing, and  I need be with them when I’m with them.  To lament all the things I’m not doing, not getting done, and all the ways I’m not being around for anyone else is a waste of time.  How awful to miss these things, and throw away the joy and soul-shattering cuteness I’m being handed because I cannot focus on what is in front of me.  Yeh, that would be pretty stupid.

Bang. Boom. Says my heart.

I didn’t know it would be like this.  I think parenting is harder the second time around, because the balance is a little more precarious.  But I cannot explain how my heart bangs in my chest when Roan makes his little brothers stop crying, saying, “What’s wrong Smitty and Shep what’s wrong?  What do you need?” and then smothers them in kisses and tummy rubs and tickles that they do not yet know how to squeal at.  In those moments it is all I ever hoped it would be.  It’s more.  In those moments I am truly with my children 100% and the world could burn down around me and the stupid smile on my face would not fade.  I hope to make those moments more frequent, without Roan, Smith and Sheppard building them for me – I would like to create them.  That’s my revolution, not resolution – for 2011.  What’s yours?

12 thoughts on “I Didn’t Know It Would Be Like This

  1. tears. and love.

    I agree…being a parent the second, third time is very different and challenging. Right after Phin was born, and I mean like 30 seconds after, I was crying for my big boy Gabe to come to my side. I was so scared that he would feel left out. And he does sometimes, but mostly we still share that amazing thing that just we share- him & I and no one else.

    So happy that Roan is bonding with dad. that is just perfect, and well timed, and probably just what both of them need right about now.

    As for res/volutions… not too unlike what you are talking about here. Spending more time just being present and in appreciation with my boys. Playing, singing, dancing, and laughing. Those are my plans. Rough, I know, but way harder for me than you’d imaging. Childhood goes WAY too fast…this I know. I’m ready for some seriously unserious relishing…and I ain’t talkin’ hot dogs and mustard here.

  2. Okay, is it plagiarism to steal your resolution/revolution and make it my own? I have not had the time or energy to make a list or check it twice as to what I want/need/will do in 2011. Fourteen days of sick kid and weeks of sick mom and dad have made my list making skills vanish like a baby burp in the wind. So, until that moment comes I am usurping yours. I only wish mine will be as beautifully written and bountifully executed. Great post, Pistols and Happy New Year!

  3. A colleague of mine has challenged me to make a fairly large change in my world view. He has inspired me to create space between my expectations and my aspirations. We talked about how, I like many other women, tend to have my expectations and my aspirations be exactly the same and thus I am way too hard on myself. The new world view is that happiness lies in that space between expectation and aspiration. So I am committed to making attainable expectations for myself so that I can aspire to be all that I can be while being happy.

  4. From one schizophrenic to another: I think I am noticing it becomes more complicated the more circumspect you imagine yourself as becoming.

  5. It is so easy to be with your children and not really be with them! Thanks for the encouragement. I picked up my first grader from school today, and he planned his afternoon, which included Lego Star Wars on the Wii. He asked me, “Do you know why I want to play Lego Star Wars, Mom?” No. “Because I really want some quality time with you.”

    So dinner was a little bit later tonight. How could I resist? We collected about 40,000 studs and found 3 mini kits. Great afternoon and was a lot more valuable than dinner exactly at 6:00.

  6. This post moved me and I must say that it is also an eye-opener for me. I have one 6-year-old daughter and me and my husband have yet to plan on giving her a brother or a sister.

    Life is hard from where I come from and having babies are expensive, almost a luxury; as much as we would want to go on picnics or visit the amusement park more often, money (earning and spending it) is always a main concern. Sometimes I find myself neglecting my daughter – being there but not really there – because of work. The guilt is unbearable. Although I know nothing could prepare us for the moment when it comes, at least I have some sort of idea on what to expect when I finally have a second (or third) child.

    You’re right about initiating quality time with kids. After all, they will eventually grow up and learn to live away from us right? Thank you for the reminder.

  7. The second child is different. But having twins makes it even more crazy. My twin girls are 15 months now and I’m slowly beginning to feel the world start to feel normal again. You’re right to slow down and enjoy the time with them, it’s difficult to do, but so worth it.

  8. “Different” is certainly the word to describe the feeling of having another child. Don’t let it worry you! I am a proud mother of 3, and I love each in a very special and unique way. How couldn’t I?! They’re are each so very different!

  9. I am set any day now to have my second child and have been pondering this balance so much. I love my first ferociously and we wanted another because we adore her entirely and every minute we’ve had with just her has been incredible.

    Thank you for writing this. It’s intense for me, and to even have a little humor infused into the idea is relieving. Your boys are beautiful. You are amazing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *