Friday, August 28

The hardest job that doesn't require a degree or any formal training

Oh. Em. Gee.

You people needed to warn me about this.

Having the second kid? Well, it's not just TWICE as hard. It's like everything becomes infinitely more complicated. It requires mad time management skillz, the ability to multi-task 24 hours a day (including while asleep), and such talents as assembling a Transformer from vehicle mode to robot mode, and back, with one hand, while breastfeeding the baby with the other.

Being at home for eight weeks gave me a true respect and appreciation for those who do this full-time, 24/7. What strength it takes, day after day, to get up and care for young children. And the energy! Lord! I have no idea what to do with a 4-year-old all day. You mean, I have to come up with stuff other than "watch TV?"

For the past eight weeks, during the day, I've lived with the fact that I may have to go out of the house in my pajamas, with my glasses on, and no makeup. Before baby #2? No way. I was way too vain. Now, it's a bonus if the pj's don't have a visible spit-up stain. Hooray for light colors! They mask the baby vomit so well. I remember the first time, post-Scribble, I put on my black Ryan Adams and the Cardinals tee that I bought back in December at one of his shows. I was unable to fit in it shortly after I bought it because of the baby bump. Within seconds of donning the shirt, I picked up Scribble, and blech -- that's all she wrote. So much for that tee until we're eating solids!

And the days would go by so slowly. I'd watch the clock tick off seconds, sometimes seeming to go backward, until my husband would get home so I could just, momentarily, be alone. Whether it was the solace of the bathroom in the form of a nice, hot shower, or a catnap in the bedroom with the shades drawn, these were the moments I lived for.

What made it so difficult? The sleep deprivation, certainly, played a role. But add to that a four year old who just had his world rocked, not only by the introduction of a major competitor for his parents' attention, but by being removed from the day care setting for the first time since he was an infant. A complete disruption in his routine both at home and at school. So it's no wonder that most days he was a complete a-hole. And I say that in the nicest way a parent can say something like that about her child.

Fortunately, he didn't take out his feelings on his new brother. Instead, Doodle reserved all of his frustration, anger, confusion and fear for me. It manifested in a mega-clingy, "me first" child who became incensed when I did anything but pay attention to him. Worst of all was when I had to feed the baby. God help us all. Because I had limited range of movement when feeding Scribble, I would always try and get Doodle squared away with food and drink as well as an activity to keep him occupied. But it never failed. I'd lift up the shirt and get the baby latched on, and the sequence of events would unfold something like this:

Doodle: *angry sigh*
Me: What's wrong?
D: When are you going to be done feeding him?
Me: I just started, so not for a while.
Me: What do you need?
D: I need you to play with me.
Me: Well, I can't right now, because I'm feeding the baby, but as soon as I'm done, we'll play.
D: *whiny voice* But, no one will play with me!!!!!

Then, sometime during the middle of the eight weeks I was home, Doodle decided it was high time he stopped napping during the day. What???!?! Not acceptable. Because that nap time was what kept me from adding raspberry vodka to my iced tea. So then I tried "quiet time" in his room, just to try and maintain some kind of separation during the day. Quiet time, most days, consisted of him kicking the wall and crying to be let out. What's a girl to do but let him out? Sometimes after a half hour, sometimes after fifteen minutes. However much I could stand.

Books I've read, and other parents, have told me that when I feel like I can't take it anymore, to get up and walk out of the room. Which is fine, and worked, right up until the point where Doodle followed me out of the room. And if I walked away a second time, followed me a second time.

There were days where I felt like a nub of a human being. The artist formerly known as. I'd moan about it to anyone who'd listen. This is haaaaaaaard, I'd tell them. Wanting them to feel bad for me. Perhaps pin a medal on my shirt. Yes, please agree with me, and then take these kids, and let me sleep for, say, three days.

It wasn't all doom and gloom. I had a newborn to enjoy and love and pamper, and that part was great. Scribble is an easy, happy go lucky infant (so far) who rarely cries (so far) and seems to take things as they come (so far). I don't know if infants are easier when it's your second child, but we fell into a groove rather quickly. And Doodle, for the most part, adores his younger brother. He makes me nervous when he gets an inch away from his face and bellows greetings to him, and pets him a la Lenny of Of Mice and Men, but I can tell that deep down, Doodle is proud to be the big dog, and will watch over Scribble with a protective eye if a bully someday tries to shake him down for his lunch money.

So, that part was great. And we had some fun doing summer stuff. Thank goodness I had this baby in the summer. Hell, I planned it that way! Both my kids are summer babies. On purpose. Going outside was a great option for us. Change of scenery, change of mood. For all of us.

And then, it was the sixth week. The six and a half week mark. The "holy crap where did the time go" mark. And then it was the seventh week, where I tried to cram in all the friend visits, the "bring the kids to the office" day, all the stuff I said I would do before I had the baby. And then it was all, sloooooooooow down. Please, clock, go backward because once this is over then I'm never going to get this time back, and come to think of it, I kind of LIKE this crazy, stressful, electric time in our lives.

For the eighth week, I put Doodle back into school to try and get him adjusted to being back on a routine. And for selfish reasons - I wanted some alone time with Scribble. I feel like, in some respects, Scribble and I didn't get the adequate time to get to know each other because of the hectic days with his older brother. I wanted to be able to enjoy my baby the way I enjoyed Doodle when he was first born. In some beautiful twist of fate, this happened to be the week that Scribble really, really learned how to smile. And I could stare into his sweet little face for hours, trying to coax smile after smile.

And then it was over. Just like that.

I thought that when I went back to work, I'd be relieved to be among adults during the day. But it hasn't been like that.

I miss my babies. Both of them. Even the a-hole. I never thought I would feel this way. And it's haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard.