How not to raise more than one child at a time…

About ten times a day I remind myself that billions of women throughout the history of childbearing have had more than one child at a time. Most were like my great-grandmother Mama-Mac, raising seven kids at once. On a farm. In a tiny house on the high plains with no heating or air conditioning. Scrubbing clothes by hand in tubs outside.

So, I’m lame for holding any complaints in my heart…because I have a very easy, happy life. And I have only two children.

What I wish I had is more patience. So far, there’s the stuff I can handle: a crying baby while I make lunch for August and me? Answer: wear him in my sister-in-law made “Moby Wrap” (or as August calls it: my kangaroo pouch) and bounce. Getting out of the house an hour later than I’d hoped? Chock it up to newborn craziness. It turns out people have a lot of compassion for people with newborns.

But here’s what I can’t handle: Baby Brooks crying inconsolably while I’m trying to get August to take his nap. August and I have a ritual for bedtime. It takes a while. And It’s sort of our special snuggle time. I read a book, make up a story, sing a song, and pray. None of those things are easy to do while your other child is screaming his head off, requiring that you bounce him sideways while swaddled (Brooksie is a little demanding). So, unfortunately, I’m finding myself short tempered with August where I used to be patient.

Today while bouncing his brother while I made up a story about the secret dinosaur button on the playground that transported August from the slide onto a dinosaur’s tail, I was leaning on one of August’s pillows against the wall. However, August had some sort of pillow game in mind. He decided that we should not use the pillows until we prayed. He moved his to the middle of the bed and determined to move mine.

“No, August, please don’t touch my pillow. I don’t want you to move it.”

He pulled on it more.

“August, don’t take my pillow! I need it.”

He grunted and heaved. “It’s needs to go over there!” he said.

“I don’t want it to go over there!” I said.

We went back and forth like this until I screamed: “I said ‘No!’”

In a different world, one that existed a little over three weeks ago, I would have explained my reasoning, why it’s unkind to take someone’s pillow away, why I like to lean against it when I’m telling him a story. I would have helped August see that he could play with one of the pillows in the middle of the bed, but not both. Instead, I shouted and felt sorry for my sore baby bouncing arms.

This is why it’s difficult for firstborns to adjust to a sibling in their lives. It’s because their parents turn from gentle and compassionate into crazy-heads. What I don’t want to be is the kind of mother I find myself being: short tempered, lacking compassion, quick to send August to time-out because it’s the easiest thing to do.

And this is where I ask all you mothers of two or more to pour out your wisdom into my comment box…

  • Tracy

    Oh Micha, it is a challenge but all part of the learning for everyone. Easy for me to say I know. Sounds like August has had it pretty good and I think what another baby can do is be a chance for him to grow a bit – maybe realize that he doesn’t need all 5 of those things to take his nap. It’s a cruel world out there when don’t know we are ok and think we need things or people too much. The hard part for us Mamas I think is the constant letting go from when they come out of our body to stop nursing to talking back to spending all morning in school to hopping on that bus for Kindergarten and on and on. Boundaries – a theme in my life again lately and only Jesus can help us strike the balance. A little piece of advice – when August inevitably gives up his nap, I encourage you to have him used to a period of quiet time alone in his room – sanity for all. My house shut down for many years between 1-3 and it saved me. I was very home bound and attached to the schedule but it kept me sane and trust me I was on the edge most days.
    Praying for balance and peace for you!

  • http://www.thereppards.blogspot.com shannon reppard

    Hi there! Sweet Steph Dunn passed along your blog to me . . . I don’t have wisdom for you, unfortunately. But, I can say that as a mother of 3 (twin 2 year olds and a 5 mo old), I can tell you this: You are not alone. I am across the country and, yet, still in the trenches with you! And, even better, our Good Shepherd is always with us–abounding in Grace, slow to anger, quick to forgive and love–and He will not leave us!

  • http://www.sundayschoolrebel.typepad.com Sam

    Oh, I know it’s hard. Managing two or more kids at once is not a land I have wanted to cross over into – I already can be short tempered with ONE! But give yourself grace and time to adjust to this time . Don’t be hard on yourself. And I agree with Tracy, this may the time that August has to do some things on his own/learn to entertain himself (maybe a new bag of Mega Blocks to sweeten the deal)…you may have to rethink some of his routines and adapt (listening to a book on CD before he naps instead of a personal story from Mama, perhaps). I know it’s SO hard for them to adjust to a new baby and everything changes…my heart breaks thinking about it…

  • Haley

    Ohhh Micha I am feeling you 1000% right now. I remember it when I went from 1 to 2 kids, and I am deep in the thick of it now that #3 is here. All I can tell you is what I try to tell myself every day:

    1. Battles require two parties. Don’t be one.

    2. Walking away for a minute is better than losing it and doing/saying something I regret.

    3. Kids are forgiving, and screw-ups give me a chance to model sincere apologies.

    4. Set low expectations and be OK with not meeting even those. It’s only a big deal if I make it one.

    5. God loves people who fail. God’s grace will cover me and my children even when I blow it.

    6. Don’t compare. If today is hard, it’s hard. Someone else may be doing something harder, but that doesn’t make my struggles less significant. God still cares, and he isn’t measuring me against anyone else.

    I don’t know if any of that helps, but those are a few things I need to be reminded of multiple times a day. You are doing God’s good work Micha!! Hang in there!

    6.

  • Allie S

    Yea. I hear you. There are days when ya just gotta say, “sorry, no books, no songs, I will pray and you will go to bed. Stick a fork in your momma cause I’m done”. There may be more days like that than you’d like for awhile–and that’s ok. But it really is good for that older sibling. Stretching. And remember that you will get back to where you want to be in terms of schedules, rhythms, etc…it’s just a seasonal break right now!! You’ll get back to it, you will.

  • Allie S

    Yea. I hear you. There are days when ya just gotta say, “sorry, no books, no songs, I will pray and you will go to bed. Stick a fork in your momma cause I’m done”. There may be more days like that than you’d like for awhile–and that’s ok. But it really is good for that older sibling. Stretching. And remember that you will get back to where you want to be in terms of schedules, rhythms, etc…it’s just a seasonal break right now!! You’ll get back to it, you will.

  • Holly Haydin

    Okay sister! I think you need to check out my friend/boss’s blog. http://thelifeofsuz.blogspot.com/. Otherwise known as “Steece’s Pieces.” When you get on there, you’ll understand why I sent you there. Also, I have tremendous faith in you! You were the best freshmen orientation mother anyone could ever have had. I know you always made time for me when I needed you, and I know you’ll figure out a way to do that with your little nuggets. Hang in there!

  • Holly Haydin

    Okay sister! I think you need to check out my friend/boss’s blog. http://thelifeofsuz.blogspot.com/. Otherwise known as “Steece’s Pieces.” When you get on there, you’ll understand why I sent you there. Also, I have tremendous faith in you! You were the best freshmen orientation mother anyone could ever have had. I know you always made time for me when I needed you, and I know you’ll figure out a way to do that with your little nuggets. Hang in there!

  • http://www.katymccay.com McKt

    Oh, how we have all had these days and these thoughts when a new little one is brought home. The days do get better. You and baby will work out a rhythm and you and August will find a new rhythm. I also think it is really good for those firstborns to have to learn to obey, even when the routine is different or the explanation is brief. The problem is that is a long hard lesson to learn. My oldest would still prefer the whole story and things in the expected way, but sometimes he just has to go with the flow, cause he is not the only one around here. Y’all are all adjusting. Give yourself as much grace as you give the kids. It will be so worth all the adjustments for the boys to have each other.

  • http://www.katymccay.com McKt

    Oh, how we have all had these days and these thoughts when a new little one is brought home. The days do get better. You and baby will work out a rhythm and you and August will find a new rhythm. I also think it is really good for those firstborns to have to learn to obey, even when the routine is different or the explanation is brief. The problem is that is a long hard lesson to learn. My oldest would still prefer the whole story and things in the expected way, but sometimes he just has to go with the flow, cause he is not the only one around here. Y’all are all adjusting. Give yourself as much grace as you give the kids. It will be so worth all the adjustments for the boys to have each other.

  • http://spoolsisters.com carrie curry

    Oh I am definitely a crazy-head! And after the first year, it’s only gotten slightly better… or at least we are used to it. I took much longer to recognize my own impatience with my precocious little man!

  • Laura

    Hi Micha- We have many mutual friends, our sons our in Sunday school together, and our husbands have even enjoyed several games of ping pong together, but we’ve never really chatted! Nonetheless, I wanted to drop you a line on this topic because I went through this a year ago when our second plopped herself right in the middle of our world.

    The wise Mrs. Florence Nault shared this advice with me during my first week as a mother of two: “You must make a decision that it’s okay to wait. Noah (our oldest) can wait, Elyana (our youngest) can wait, and you know that you and Andrew will constantly be exercising patience. Waiting often means crying, but that’s okay. You have to be okay with the baby crying while you fix Noah lunch or if you just need to sit there and eat lunch yourself. Noah also has to learn to wait…for nursing, diaper changes, etc.”

    It seems simple, but I had to repeat this to myself each day of those first few months (even out loud!). I found it was a constant decision that I had to be okay with things not being smooth or completely under control (or quiet for that matter), and learning to change my expectations was the main thing that helped me make it through each day! You’ll get there- and you’ll realize what to cut out of the daily routines, and you’ll fluctuate through peace and craziness, and you’ll have days when you accomplish nothing, and you’ll have days when you’ll celebrate your superhero momminess, and all the while you can be comforted by the fact that every other mother near and far is going through the same thing :)

  • Laura

    Hi Micha- We have many mutual friends, our sons our in Sunday school together, and our husbands have even enjoyed several games of ping pong together, but we’ve never really chatted! Nonetheless, I wanted to drop you a line on this topic because I went through this a year ago when our second plopped herself right in the middle of our world.

    The wise Mrs. Florence Nault shared this advice with me during my first week as a mother of two: “You must make a decision that it’s okay to wait. Noah (our oldest) can wait, Elyana (our youngest) can wait, and you know that you and Andrew will constantly be exercising patience. Waiting often means crying, but that’s okay. You have to be okay with the baby crying while you fix Noah lunch or if you just need to sit there and eat lunch yourself. Noah also has to learn to wait…for nursing, diaper changes, etc.”

    It seems simple, but I had to repeat this to myself each day of those first few months (even out loud!). I found it was a constant decision that I had to be okay with things not being smooth or completely under control (or quiet for that matter), and learning to change my expectations was the main thing that helped me make it through each day! You’ll get there- and you’ll realize what to cut out of the daily routines, and you’ll fluctuate through peace and craziness, and you’ll have days when you accomplish nothing, and you’ll have days when you’ll celebrate your superhero momminess, and all the while you can be comforted by the fact that every other mother near and far is going through the same thing :)

  • monica

    Congrats micha on brooks!!! You were such a cute prego women at the church retreat, what a relief to be able to bend over again:)

    you are in my prayers…it is so hard. Brennan, my oldest, did the same thing and he does not remember crazy mom from those first few weeks (thank the lord they are so concrete at this age). DON’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF!!!! Demanding things to be they way they used to be only drives us grown ups into depression. the journey to a new “normal” is not easy. Trust me each day you are getting closer to sanity. My mom always says, “this to will pass”. Can’t wait to read your new chapters on this crazy adventure of parenting.

    hope to see you in philly soon!
    on earth as it is in heaven,
    monica ayers

  • Lindsey

    Oh Micha what a blessing you are figuring this out now! I have three 13, 8, and 5. I never stopped long enough to think what it was doing to my oldest. Now I see it and I am trying to make up for lost time! It is a hard job being a mommy, but you will get it and all will be well again soon!

  • Lindsey

    Oh Micha what a blessing you are figuring this out now! I have three 13, 8, and 5. I never stopped long enough to think what it was doing to my oldest. Now I see it and I am trying to make up for lost time! It is a hard job being a mommy, but you will get it and all will be well again soon!


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