"Oh. My. God. Is that poop?" It's a question you want to be asked... never.
Just a week after our second son's birth, our extended family cleared out of town and left just me, my husband (let's call him Steve), our 2-year-old boy (we'll call him Aaron) and our newborn son (who will be known as Ralph). Our nanny, who had been taking care of Aaron while I was at work before Ralph was born, had finished up early that evening.
Though this would be my very first time alone with both boys, all was calm. I thought, what could go wrong?
Aaron, who refused to give the nanny a hug and kiss before she left for the day, greatly regretted this decision and had an uncharacteristic but very intense meltdown at the foot of the door following her departure, crying so hard he threw up. I tossed him in the bath and called my husband in a panic, insisting that he leave work immediately and come home. Aaron continued to cry in the bath while Ralph began whimpering in the bassinet in the living room. Of course, this soon turned to full on wailing.
There were two of them and only one of me. Each boy started crying louder than the other, testing my abilities as a mother.
Fifteen minutes later Steve walked in the door. I turned to the barf on the floor with one eye on Ralph, so Steve could get Aaron out of the bath and ready for bed. As soon as Steve walked in the bathroom, he saw the unseeable. Aaron, for the very first time in his two whole years of life, had pooped. In the bath. Right next to his Elmo boat.
Steve and Aaron bolted into the shower, while Aaron suddenly remembered he didn't get that hug and kiss that caused the whole damn incident, so the crying started all over again. Ralph continued to scream while I got Aaron dressed so Steve could disinfect the tub.
Things have been on the up and up since that "initiation to two" evening, but I am confident that being the mother of two boys will certainly be the most challenging and rewarding opportunity of my life. What better time than now to reflect on my changing life and the question I have been asked countless times since Ralph's birth: "So, how is having two?"
Top 5 Things I Miss:
1) Sleep. This is the big one. I wish and hope and pray that I might sleep for more than a four hour stretch again soon. "They" say "sleep when the babies sleep." Please.
2) Personal hygiene. All I want to do every day is brush my teeth and wash my face and shower like an ordinary human being. I'm not even asking for makeup or salon-quality hair. Just the essentials. All of these on the same day is like striking gold. I aim for at least one.
3) TV. I know that's sad but as a person who would never miss an episode of Grey's Anatomy, I dearly miss being completely dedicated to and engrossed in something other than my children's feeding schedule (which, of course, is quite important). So, PLEASE don't tell me what happened on Homeland. I know some day I will be able to catch up. And that day will be glorious.
4) Speaking at a normal decibel level. Once these kids are sleeping, so help me God if I (or anyone around me) speak louder than a whisper. For I will not wake them. I will not wake them.
5) A full, uninterrupted conversation. I truly resented when, before I was a parent, I would talk to a parent and every single sentence fell short because they were focused on not allowing their children to stick their hands down their diapers or eat a power outlet or jump head first off the couch. And now, I have become what I -- take that hair dryer out of the bathtub, where was I, oh right -- hate.
Top 5 Things I've Learned:
1) I, in fact, did not ruin my older son's life. He really truly loves his little brother and his life is richer for it.
2) Just because they walk and talk, two-year-olds are still babies. They still need hugs and love and the occasional emergency bath evacuation.
3) Procrastination is the enemy. If something doesn't happen today, it will never get done. This goes for washing bottles, putting away laundry, writing thank you notes for Ralph's gifts (I promise they are coming soon), etc.
4) Things will never be as neat as I want. And that's ok. Kids are messy and they don't care that I have OCD. Besides, who wouldn't want to wake up to find a guitar, cheesestick or firetruck in bed?
5) Boys will be boys. And that means Aaron will honk Ralph's nose, and I have to be cool with that. One day soon I know they will appreciate one another, so a little honking here and there isn't so bad.
Top 5 Things I Never Want To Change:
1) How Aaron is SO proud to be a big brother and introduces Ralph to EVERYONE as "his best friend."
2) How Ralph stops crying when Aaron sings him the ABC's.
3) The way our car feels so snug, cozy and complete with two car seats in the back. (It might also mean we need a bigger car, but I'm going with the first thought.)
4) How the first thing Aaron wants to know every morning when he wakes up is where Ralph is.
5) Having to disinfect the bathtub every now and then -- because it means that our chaotic house is full of life and laughter.
So, as I figuratively and literally collapse on the couch each and every single night, with three Thomas stickers on my right knee, spit up on my left shoulder, heavy eyes and a full heart, I know this is what life is all about. And, I wouldn't want it any other way.