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I Suck at Being the Mom of a Baby and a Toddler

I'll be the first to admit that staying home with small children has never been a skill that has come naturally to me.

I mean, sure, I've done it for seven years and for the most part, I've been grateful to have the chance to do it as my primary role while also supporting my family on the side with work as a nurse and a medical writer.

But still.

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There are a lot of days when I feel that particular brand of panic that stay-at-home moms are all well too acquainted with. It's that bottom-of-your-stomach type of dread when you start to realize the next day will consist of nothing but cleaning, changing diapers, struggling to get kids to sleep (and hopefully on the same schedule, if all the stars, planets and moons align properly!), cleaning again, cooking something semi-healthy, scrubbing high chairs, forcing yourself to remain calm and cheerful in the midst of whining, crying and tantrums … and the next day looks the same. And the next day after that. And the day after that. And the one after that, too.

Oh, and sure, you think to yourself, I'll mix the day up. We'll go to a "Mommy and Me" music class or meet some friends at the park or maybe even be crazy and host a play date. That will shake the cobwebs off and stave off any grumpies before we all lose our minds a bit.

It's hard because there's no rhyme or reason to my days, there's no real end in sight, and every moment of every day is spent feeling like I am literally holding my breath so everything won't fall apart in one great cryfest.

But doing those things involves a lot of pre-planning, snack packing, a massive diaper change at the exact moment you're starting to pull out of the driveway and more than likely, a mysteriously lost shoe. Doing those things always seems like more work than they are worth because you're exhausted before you get anywhere and then when you get back home, there's a whole morning's worth of chores and cleaning that you skipped to get out the door.

So, yeah. I have my moments as a stay-at-home mom.

But what I didn't realize was how much easier those moment had become when my oldest two children were around. Although my oldest are still young (7 and 5), it quickly became apparent to me how much I depended on them to watch the baby for a minute while I peed, entertain the baby while I cooked or heaven forbid, carry on an actual conversation with me during the day that didn't involve the words, "Moooomm? Can I have snack?"

As we prepared for the first time to enroll both "big kids" in school this fall, I quickly realized that instead of being the mom of four little ones, I was resorting back to my early mom years of being a mom of "just" a toddler and a baby.

And I also realized, with a swift horror, that I wasn't really looking forward to it.

The plain and embarrassing truth is, I kind of suck at being the mom of a toddler and a baby. It's hard. It's hard because there's no rhyme or reason to my days, there's no real end in sight, and every moment of every day is spent feeling like I am literally holding my breath so everything won't fall apart in one great cryfest.

I once read a book from a mom of eight who talked about how much easier her life was now that she had eight kids. Eight kids, she argued, was infinitely easier than having two little ones because simply by having eight, you automatically have older kids around to help you or just break up the ratio of people who speak in full sentences vs. those who just point and grunt at you.

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I've held on to her words for many years because they made a lot of sense to me and also because they helped me realize I'm not crazy. It obviously doesn't make sense that one person (me) could be the utmost perfect parent and love every age and stage of my children's development, right? Some parents might be really good at handling the teen years and some might love the newborn stage and some might rock those threenager tantrums, but maybe it's OK if they don't sail through every stage with kisses and butterflies. Well, fine, we should probably always kiss our kids, but all I'm saying is maybe it's OK that I suck at loving the toddler-and-a-baby stage at the moment.

So let's hope I rock the hell out of the teen stage.

Photograph by: Chaunie Brusie/j&j brusie photography

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