Friday, August 31, 2007

Saying goodbye to 2 under 2

Eloise will be 2 in two weeks. (September 13). I can hardly believe that it's been two years since I gave birth to my firstborn. I always imagined myself at this milestone about to decide when to have #2. And here I am, I already have #2.

Lily will be 7 months just after Eloise is 2, so for 7 months I have had 2 under 2. When people have asked the ages of my children, I have always answered in months. The moment I would say, "19 months and 2 months", I get this look of "oh my word, how do you do it?". "I don't know, I just do", was my most common response.

While pregnant with Lily I was getting a prescription filled for Eloise and the pharmacy tech asked how old Eloise was, (16 months at the time and I was due in 2 weeks). With a sympathetic look she said, "I have twins. I've heard what you are about to go through is worse". (so much for encouragement). Then today, while at the book store, talking with the woman helping me look for a parenting book she asked how old my kids were. I told her and she said, "I'm sorry, my first two were 17 months apart and I thought I was going to go crazy some days". She is now pregnant with her 3rd, five years later. She said it took her that long to recover and think about doing it all over again.

I am tired, in fact, I'm more exhausted than I have ever been in my life. Yet, I am also more organized than ever before. I am obsessed with being efficient and on top of things.

Incidentally, while looking for this parenting book, I picked up another one.
Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice box by Ann Dunnewold, Ph.D.

While reading, I felt like this book was designed for me. I felt like yelling, "YES" at almost everything she was writing. She identified the source of this incredible pressure I feel as a mom and I didn't even know there was another source besides my mind.

She compares parenting of the 60's to now. One major difference, making things absolutely perfect for our children. "Parenting" wasn't even a verb yet. "To parent" was just something you did. A parent was something you were. She says, "I don't think that, until the last few decades, mothers even had the idea that parenthood was something they could get wrong. It was just a part of life".

Moms in this book "are struggling mightily with society's message that they can, and must, control all aspects of their children's lives in order to make sure that they are perfectly efficient, functioning, happy, and fulfilled individuals - a flawless product. Deep down, of course we all know there's no such thing as a flawless anything, much less a human - but when society is whispering in your ear, "Just try harder, give more of your time and attention, do more projects, bake fancier cupcakes, throw more lavish birthday parties, sign them up for more enrichment classes" - after all, this is your child"

I am really excited to read more of this book. Jody Mayhew and I met yesterday to catch up (very good to hear about her trip) and she was asking me why moms these days seem so wrapped up in kids, infants especially, and their sleep. Her daughter has a 9 month old who does not nap and does not sleep at night. After talking with her, I decided I needed to stop complaining about Lily, because things could get worse. It was an interesting coincidence to talk with her about this and discover this book the next day. Does God have plans to use me to help other moms? We'll see.

How is 2 under 2 and this book tied together? With Eloise turning 2 I feel like I'm losing the sympathy card or rather the pass. Telling someone I have a 2 yr old and a 7 month old doesn't sound as bad. Therefore, my excuse to myself to lack in some areas, is gone. I now have more self-inflicted pressure to have it all together, even though I still have 2 cribs, 2 in diapers, and 2 that will always be my 2 under 2.

sidenote: I know that every woman with children has it tough. I in no way want to make my life or my situation greater than anyone else. We all as mother's have our share of circumstances that make our situation difficult in its unique way. I respect all mama's and know that I am praying for you in the middle of the night. ;)


Jodi said...

I liked this post, Kate. :)

It sounds like you identified a couple of pretty key things here. I'm glad you found a book that has affirmed some of the difficulties you've been having and help you sort those through. I'm anxious to hear more about what you read!

I especially like what she said about the control thing. I can picture many a mother sitting up with their babies on sleepless nights and thinking, "Why don't you just relinquish your control and go to sleep? Don't you know that I know what's best for you?" The Lord must be looking down thinking the exact same thing about us.