on mothering two
Today marks four months since becoming a mother of two, and despite Sam’s flattering compliment to me the other day that “my hair looks tired“, I think we are settling in just fine to life with another little Rig. My hair, however, is a different story all together.
I was warned that going from one to two would be the hardest. In my experience, however, nothing could compare in difficulty to becoming a mother for the first time. This is why I tend to scratch my head whenever I hear a mother who has multiple kids comment on how easy mothers of just one child must have it! Easy? Anything but! Besides more laundry, of course, second-time mothers have something invaluable that first-time mothers don’t have yet, and that’s perspective.
Besides my intense love for Sam, I’m almost certain that that’s what felt most overwhelming to me about bringing him home from the hospital. I had zero perspective (or maybe ‘experience’ is a better word) that things would ever get easier; that one day our baby would sleep through the night, that feeding issues really do get worked out, that the postpartum pain actually will go away, and that everything I feared really was all in vain.
Bringing Peter home from the hospital was an entirely different story. The love was just as intense, but instead of fretting and losing sleep over all the questions and concerns, I had two years of experience (and faith!) that enabled me to take a deep breath and just enjoy these days with my children.
So whenever my load starts to feel heavy, I stop and think about my friends who are experiencing motherhood for the very first time and I pray for them. Because even though I am outnumbered during the day, they probably feel so more than I do.
One thing that’s certain since adding a new child to our family is that I feel the need for more practical help than I did before. I live far away from family. I miss them more now than I ever have. So many of the daily ins-and-outs of mothering and homemaking would be shouldered by my mother and mother-in-law if only we lived closer. And when one does live close enough for their extended family to help, I think it blesses the heart of God. But this isn’t the case for everyone, and since it isn’t for us, God is faithful to help us in a different way.
He sends strangers to help carry extra bags of groceries out to the car so I won’t have to push two baskets. He sends other moms to smile and encourage me in public when both of my kids are taking turns in the loony bin. He sends a friend over to watch my boys for 30 minutes while I run the (dreaded) errand to the post office. He sends my pastor’s wife over to my house with my favorite lunch in hand to sit and talk (because she knows I probably haven’t stopped to eat!). He gives me laughter every day because of my hilarious two-year old. He sends college girls over to my house to help me fold laundry. He has given me a husband who values my role in this family and makes time for me to rest and recharge. And He has provided loving grandparents who would drop everything to be here if the need arose.
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom and gently lead those who are with young.” Isaiah 40:11
When I’m missing the closeness of my family, God reminds me (and oftentimes through strangers!) that He is helping me. He is leading me. He is carrying me. And He is more than sufficient to make up for what I lack.
So, four months in with two little ones and what am I learning?
I’m learning that being a good mother is really hard work, all of the time. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually- it is work. And that this kind of work is incredibly enjoyable and satisfying if I have the right heart and mind about it.
I’m also learning that going to bed at an early hour, even if I don’t want to, is one of the most loving things I can do for my family. (I know why this woman never went to bed at night…it’s because she had small children and couldn’t get anything done during the day!)
I’m learning that if I want my children to have happy hearts and fat souls, their mother needs to sit at the feet of Jesus, and often. (I’m also learning that sometimes this sitting looks a lot like sweeping up crumbs underneath the highchair for the sixth time today.) I am thankful for the way the Lord draws near in the mundane.
I’m also learning that while I might feel like a ping-pong ball, bouncing from one child to the next throughout the day, God is doing kingdom work in their hearts and mine. Every hug, every book, every kind word, every laugh, every kiss, every correction, every sleepless night, it’s all working together for something greater. And He promised that if I don’t grow weary in doing good (and this work is good), He will reap a harvest from what I’ve sown.