This goes out to all my friends who are currently or might at some point in their lives be pregnant with their second child. If your experience is like mine was, you’ve heard from a ton of people that two kids are easier than one. “Oh it’ll be great!” they say. “They can play together and you’ll have all this time to get things done! Your life will be so much simpler!”
Well, my friends, I’m about to drop some truth on you. Two kids are not easier than one.
TWO KIDS ARE MORE THAN TWICE AS DIFFICULT AS ONE.
Anyone who tells you otherwise a) is lying, b) has forgotten, or c) is insane. Or, I suppose, d) has the most blissfully angelic children ever to grace the face of the earth, who never poop or barf or have runny noses, eat and sleep happily and on a convenient schedule, and don’t attempt to stab each others eyes out with pretzel sticks.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all stress and terror and desperation. At first you’re worried that you won’t have enough room in your heart for another child because you already love your first kid so dang much, and then baby number two comes crashing in like an entire ocean of love and now you’re wondering how you’ll ever contain it all. (Hint: you don’t. It leaks out your eyes.) And the joy of seeing your two babies smiling at each other, laughing together, snuggling one another as if that’s the way it’s always been? It’s indescribable. Throw your husband into the mix, and somebody grab my fainting couch and the smelling salts because I am for reals about to swoon.
Having two children is glorious. Truly. But it’s also seriously insanely undeniably hard.
On the plus side, you kind of already know what you’re doing. You’ve conquered childbirth* and sleepless nights and endless diaper changes and teething and going everywhere with a kid in tow. Little things like bumps and bruises, eating dirt, and barfing into your hand don’t faze you too much anymore. You’re armed with a pediatrician you love, a car seat you know how to install, a bunch of hand-me-down clothes, and plenty of first-hand experience.
You know it’s possible to survive the hard days because you aren’t dead yet.
After adding a second child to your family, you’ll realize how easy it was to do things with just one kid. Grocery shopping with one child? Piece of cake! Doing your hair while keeping one child out of mischief? You got this! Mopping the floor, paying bills, and making dinner while one child “helps”? Snore. Why on earth didn’t you do more stuff before this? Having one kid is a breeze!
It’s when you throw that second kid into the mix that all hell breaks loose. Now you’re preventing TWO small irrational people from destroying the world and It. Is. Impossible. You’re finally folding laundry for the first time in a month (how to two tiny people manage to soil so much clothing??). All is well so you look away for three seconds. When you turn back around the toddler has no pants on, the baby is pulling the toddler’s hair, the toddler is screaming bloody murder, the baby has pooped and it’s leaking on your clean sheets, the toddler is sticking her fingers in the baby’s eyes, the baby is screaming bloody murder, the toddler is jumping in your piles of just folded laundry, and the baby is about to plunge headfirst off the bed.
Not that this has ever happened to me, of course. I’m just speaking in hypotheticals here. But even if that specific scenario never plays out, the following probably will:
The older child will be jealous that you spend so much time holding the baby, so you may find yourself simultaneously feeding one and snuggling the other, all while sweating profusely and ignoring the urge to pee.
The baby will wake up so often at night that you’ll try to take a nap during the day…only to discover that the older child no longer takes naps. OR the baby and toddler will both take regular naps but never at the same time. Surprise! You get to be awake 23 hours a day now! Plus you never get to go anywhere because one of your children is always sleeping! Lucky you!
You’ll take that first trip out–likely to the grocery store because your family is now subsisting on crackers and ketchup–and be completely freaked out by the logistics. Which kid do you put in the car first? Which do you take out first? Do you use a baby carrier so the older kid can ride in the shopping cart? Or do you try to put both kids in the cart, even though now you have no room for your groceries? Do you make one walk and face all the risks that might entail, i.e., knocked-down displays, running away, tantrums in the ice cream aisle? You may not shop during daylight hours again, in which case you’ll discover the joys of late-night grocery store music, namely: elevator heavy metal. (I made that name up but it’s a legit thing, I swear.)
The older child will be disappointed that the baby isn’t more fun to play with. The baby will be frustrated and/or injured by the older child’s advances. Both will scream. Lots. You might too, which will make them scream even more. You’ll worry that your neighbors are going to call CPS because of all the screaming.
You’ll feel inadequate and incapable and in over your head all the dang time.
You will think that maybe you should leave the kids with their grandma and run away to the Bahamas to start a new life.
But then. Ah! Then!
Then your baby will laugh hysterically every time your older child plays peekaboo, which in turn cracks up your older child, and you’ll want to bottle that sound up to save forever.
Then your older child will lay down to do tummy time with the baby, and you’ll realize how much they look alike and it melts your heart.
Then your children will start sharing snacks and looking at books together and helping each other build train tracks the fill the entire living room, and you’ll realize this is exactly what you wanted. For your older child to have a friend and playmate. For your baby to adore and imitate their older sibling.
For your home to be filled with love.
And if you can get through the really really reeeeeeeaaaaaaaallll(I cannot stress this enough)lllyyyy hard part at the beginning? Well, it’s still going to be hard a lot of the time. But that’s parenting for you. It’s the hardest job there is.
But it’s also totally worth it.
*I’m totally including adoption and marriage and however your child(ren) came to be yours here. Lest anyone feel I’m leaving them out, I truly believe that parenting is equal parts challenging and rewarding no matter how you get the job.