The Unruly Life with Two Under Two

At this very moment, I am in a rocking chair nursing my 5-week-old son and watching my 19-month-old daughter make use of the books and toys in her unkempt bedroom. I probably won’t end this blog in this same situation, especially since it’s naptime and my boy is screaming and my girl keeps crying for milk because she is jealous and wants to nurse. 

I couldn’t even get through that last sentence without the situation changing.

This life I’m in right now is an unruly, sleepless, loud, sticky, wonderful adventure. It’s a trek through a jungle of thoughts and emotions and everything that happens before we say “night-night.” It’s prioritizing, both poorly and thoughtfully, what’s important in our day, and laundry doesn’t usually win first place.  It’s tandem nursing, cuddling, burping, singing, rocking, kissing, bleeding, wiping, crying, giggling, and praying. It’s a grumpy face, a toothy grin, a tired sigh, and victorious applause for a kid who learned something new. It’s a desperate search for the “buh-buh” or “pacifier” as most non-toddlers call it. It’s the resounding call for “mama” or “daddy” that echoes through the house, and the newborn wailing in the background. It’s the extra-long moment that I take to admire the God-given life that I cradle in my arms. It’s pretty crazy and pretty amazing. 

This season won’t last long. I’ve already gotten through an entire month of having two kids under age two. The changes are already apparent. Pretty soon I’ll have a girl who can articulate herself better than ever and maybe figure out how to jump, and a boy who has barely spent any of his life breathing air already learning how to smile and play and laugh. At some point, their interactions will amount to more than just the bigger one patting the smaller one on the head. And then my little girl will turn 2 and I’ll be living a different (probably unruly) life. Maybe I will even have a handle on the thousand thoughts that race through my barely capable mom-brain, but I’m guessing not. 

Sammy, my Mr. Peaceful, will grow up to be a strong and content young man, I’m sure of it. EV will be fearless and giggly as usual, but she will also have funny quips and unique ideas. She will probably have troves of friends and admirers, but this is her mom talking. And somewhere down the line, there might be more little Kramers to change the identity of our family. I’d be happy with that! (But maybe we can put it off a few years. A girl can only go so long without sushi and wine.) This year’s Christmas card has two beautiful, remarkable children on it, and their close births will mean they are close to each other, like no other person could be.

I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Not for more peace, or sleep, or wine & sushi, or hair, or time, or money, or travel, or sanity, or showers. I will have everything I could want in the next life, so why should I have any regrets about giving someone else the opportunity to have that promise too?

God gave me this messy life, and I tell ya, I am so thankful He did. 

  

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Redemption From a Bad Season in Parenting

This is a story about how I discovered I was a “bad mom.” But, before I elaborate on that, I want to share a thought I read this morning, as it is incredibly relevant and more accurate than the panicked thoughts I had about my ability to be a good mother.

Bad moments don’t make bad mamas.

Unfortunately, during this past situation, I don’t think I would have been consoled by this statement. The reason is, mainly, because I wasn’t having a bad moment. I was having a bad season.

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EV at 13 months

I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that something came up with EV. It broke my heart, and I cried a lot about it. I thought hard about whether I wanted to share this story or not, but I realized that it was important to share. Being candid about parenthood is what helps us understand that this journey isn’t perfect all the time. We can make mistakes, big ones even, and still be redeemed not only by the love we share within our families, but also by the power and grace of God.

I guess I’ll just fess up and tell you what happened: EV lost weight. That’s right. A 12-month-old actually lost weight under my supervision. That is not common, and definitely not desirable, because essentially it means that I was not giving my daughter what she needed. My brain immediately jumped to the idea that this only happens to impoverished kids or kids with terrible parents (of course), and I would probably have CPS knocking at my door sooner or later because I’m an unfit mother.

But, there are multiple reasons why this happened that I now understand had nothing to do with me being a “bad mom.”

First of all, I didn’t notice anything was wrong because EV never acted like it. She was happy all the time. She was well on her way to walking, she had learned a few words, and she was more willing to laugh and smile than any other baby I knew. The only possible indication that something was up was that we started to struggle with nursing. I thought it had something to do with the flavor, which can change during pregnancy. She still wanted to nurse, I was still producing milk, and we had frequent sessions throughout the day and night.

So, that brings me to my second reason, which was that this pregnancy probably drastically changed my milk supply suddenly, and there was no way for me to know that. It’s much more common for milk supply to drop in the second trimester, and all my research suggested that we should keep doing exactly what we were doing, even if supply was down.

And so there’s the third problem, which was food. EV had been exclusively breastfed for 9 months (which was when I got pregnant), and when she did start eating, she wouldn’t eat much. The breastfeeding sites suggested that, if supply was low, to take it easy with introducing food. If you supplement too much, it could lower supply even further because the mother’s body isn’t getting enough signals. Besides that, introducing food has to be a slow process for the sake of the baby’s health. What I didn’t know was that, in my particular situation, food supplementation was necessary to make sure EV had enough nutrition. And it still pains me to admit that she didn’t.

So, when did we notice that something was wrong? Well, at around 11 months-old, I noticed that EV had not grown out of her 6-9 month clothes yet, and some of the other babies we know around her age were starting to surpass her in size. We weighed her, and that’s when we knew that she hadn’t gained anything, and had probably lost some, since her last visit to the pediatrician. They confirmed this at her 12-month visit, and by then, we were already working to solve the problem.

In the words of her (awesome) pediatrician: It’s a concern, but it’s not serious.

I just want to tell every parent with a concern about their kid: bad moments, or bad seasons, don’t make you a bad parent.

I did everything I could think of with the information I had. The problem wasn’t that I wasn’t trying or that I didn’t care, it was that I just didn’t know. I didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t know what to do about it. That may not be what you are going through. Maybe you said something you didn’t mean. Maybe you trusted something or someone who failed you. Maybe you just aren’t a superhero.

We can’t be superheroes all the time. We can never be this hyper-focused, wish-granting genie with all the answers and 5 sets of hands. When we try, we inevitably fail. Sometimes really hard. That doesn’t mean you’re a villain. It doesn’t mean you never do bad things, on purpose or otherwise, but like I said before, we can find redemption.

Speaking of that, how is EV today?

Well, she is gaining weight again. Pretty quickly, actually. We have a follow-up visit coming up, and I already know that everything will be ok. I handed this one over to God. And I have to continuously do that, because I can’t possibly control everything that happens. We are happy knowing what we need to do, but more than that, we are happy knowing that EV is healthy and filled to the brim with joy.

She’s just as happy as ever, racing around the house and babbling constantly. She even has some words down and she understands so much! She has tons of favorite foods, mainly fruit and dairy, but she will devour anything if we catch her in the right mood. And mealtime is as good a playtime as any other time of day! She can also be fiercely independent. Oh, and she absolutely LOVES to dance!

I look at her, and I feel lucky. I never want to hold her to the standard of “perfect” but man, there is so much good in that girl.

We found redemption. Our devotion to her brought it to us. She brought it to us. Ultimately, though, God brought it to us. And for that, I really can’t be more thankful.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8