Here's the Thing About Having Your Kids Close Together
by Katie Smith
Photograph by Twenty20
When I had my first child, just like every other mom, I had the wind knock out of me and was surprised by the exhaustion and overwhelmingness of it all. We know it's coming because everyone tell us it's coming, but until we live through it ourselves, we really can't grasp the magnitude of it all.
And what surprises us even more is that it lasts ... and lasts and lasts. Around the time my son was 9 months old, people started asking when I was going to have another one. The thought of bringing another child into the world while he was learning how to walk wasn't even on my radar. I thought maybe when he was in kindergarten, I would think about having another. Maybe.
That all changed on his first birthday. As I watched him blow out his first candle, a feeling I'd recognized before poured over me: I wanted another child. And I wanted him or her right away. It was the exact same feeling I'd had when we tried for our first. I was excited, anxious, hopeful—all of it. You couldn't knock me out of my dreamlike state if you tried. I was determined to have another as soon as possible. I didn't care that he was toddling around and had his hands in everything.
And on his second birthday, I was holding her in my arms. My sweet little girl was here. She was 3 months old and I couldn't get enough of her.
Fast-forward a few months after that, and I was nursing her before nap time with another one baking in my belly. Although this wasn't in our plans—two felt like enough—I was just as giddy as I'd been the first two times.
Love really is blind. I was so in love with my two babies and my unborn child, I didn't put much time and effort into thinking about how much harder life was going to get. I didn't stew about how tired I was going to be. I wasn't in denial, I just had no clue what was about to happen to my life. It didn't even cross my mind it might take me years to recover after having them so close together, but it does take years. My youngest is now 10 and I've accepted I'm going to be tired for the rest of my life.
It's honestly been the most intense experience I've ever been through.
The exhaustion from having three kids in three years didn't even begin to lift until my youngest was in second grade. It was then I began to see little glimpses of my pre-kid energy return. Not all of it, mind you, just a little here and a little there.
I've slowly started to decompress the last five years and not feel tired every second of every day. It's honestly been the most intense experience I've ever been through.
If you've stayed home full-time, with one child or six, you feel me when I say that after that job, you are really freaking tired for a long time. So, it's OK to take the time you need to rest up and figure out the rest of your life. It's fine if you don't start over with you career, head right back into work, join that gym or take that dance class you've always wanted to.
It's totally normal to just want to be for a bit. To take one day at a time. To spend hours cleaning out closets, or sit in your bathrobe and just enjoy the the quiet.
Having kids close together fills your heart with love but it also fills your home with noise and chaos. The chaos doesn't stop just because they are in school full-time, either. If you're lucky, you can stop and take a few moments for yourself in between the household chores, preparing them for school, helping with homework and driving them all over Timbuktu.
While I wouldn't change a thing and there are so many reasons I'm glad I had my children close together, it's taken a long time to get over the shock of it all—and I'm still not there.
So, if you're in the same boat and wondering when you're going to get some of your energy back, don't worry, you will. It's just going to be a while and that's OK. It's all gonna be OK.