On Having Two Kids

I knew life would change when we had our second child…but I was not prepared for just how different life would be. Having two kids is not just double the work–it’s 234937826x more work. We have had Caroline for just over 5 months, and we cannot wrap our heads around how much harder life is with two kids. I have absolutely no idea how single parents, how parents with multiples, or how parents with lots of kids do it. Mad respect to all of you! We are a two-kid family. Done.

With two kids, especially with a 3-year-old as the eldest, you cannot just divide and conquer. That toddler…she’s got opinions. My strong, beautiful, opinionated girl might just kill me one day. She is so hard, so much work. I hope this contrary phase is just that, a phase. Whatever we suggest, she does not want it. Unless it’s chocolate or playing with her friends–those things she’s all for all the time. She’s also always down for some Chick-fil-A and some cookies. Otherwise, forget it. If it’s your idea, she’s against it. Bath? No. Play outside? No. Dance party? No. Daniel Tiger? No. Now if those things are her idea? Game on. It’s exhausting. I never really know if I’m going to get my sweet, affectionate, I-want-to-cuddle-you child or my fit-pitching, screaming, ornery child who cannot be pleased. It changes from minute to minute some days. I had heard of the term “threenager” before, but WOW, I didn’t know how accurate that moniker really was. Teenagers I get–I love them, I (mostly) understand them. My threenager is an enigma to me on most days. Her tiny little body can take on the strength of three men when she’s in the zone. Her screams can hit octaves that cause you physical pain. But then, the sweetness…her creative imagination, her dance performances, her big big big hugs and messy kisses, her spontaneous affection and out-of-the-blue, “I love you, Mommy.” Wow. I didn’t know my heart could swell so much. Living with Elizabeth is like living at the beach: beautiful, magical…but then there’s the grit, the storms.

We thought Elizabeth was an easy baby until we had Sweet Caroline. I call her a gold-star baby. She is easy, predictable, not reliant on a strict schedule. If Caroline is crying, I know exactly how to calm her down, and it’s almost instant. Elizabeth had a full-blown witching hour for months when she was a baby. Honestly, E still has a witching hour. Caroline just smiles, coos, and squeals through life…sleeping on-the-go, getting passed around, hanging out on her play mat with her toys. Easy peasy.

So many friends have told us that this is the hardest year, the first year of having two kids. Jon and I remind ourselves of that constantly, even though we really know that there are more hard phases to come. Thank goodness we have each other, that we work every day to strengthen our marriage, that we reflect on how we can make life better for each other. We fail plenty of days, and we fight and fuss more than we would care to admit, but at the end of every day, we know this is the life we built together and this is the life we are going to choose every day for the rest of our lives.