The first two weeks with Owen were, well, awesome. My happy hormones carried me through the sleepless nights and it wasn’t uncommon to find me fighting back tears of joy in the early morning light as I nursed him. I reveled in the gifts and cards, the flowers, the sweet cuddles, and the fact he napped ALMOST CONSTANTLY.
Raising two children is easy when one of them sleeps 22 hours a day.
But then Owen woke up and wouldn’t go back to sleep. (As in he rarely sleeps during the day. Period.) This wouldn’t be terrible except when babies don’t sleep, they get fussy. Plus, I only have two arms. It’s really hard to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or use the bathroom when you’re holding a screaming baby.
I’m just going to come out and admit something. This whole raising two kids thing is hard. Like, really hard. Each week has been harder than the week before. I’m sleep deprived and have no time to myself. Writing this blog post took much, much longer than it normally would. I value productivity, and I can usually get a lot done. These days, I’m not getting much done.
Do you want to know something that’s even harder for me to say? I’m embarrassed, humbled and shameful about where I’m at right now.
In fact, as much as I’ve known for weeks that I should hop onto this blog space and admit we’re in the trenches, silly things have been holding me back.
I’ve worried you’ll think I’m a whiner.
I’m worried it will seem I’m not grateful for the good and wonderful gift of children.
I’ve worried you’ll think I’m weak.
I’ve worried you’ll wonder why I haven’t figured things out by now—after all, this is our second baby. Shouldn’t we know a few things about sleeping and reflux and gas and nursing?
I’m worried moms of one child will read this and not want to have a second child.
I’ve worried you’ll respond by offering advice about how to fix things, which will just frustrate me because we’ve tried almost everything to get this kid to sleep more and cry less.
Combined with all these worries, I’m also struggling with guilt. Guilt is an emotion I’ve always battled. I’m not paying as much attention to Anna, not loving my husband in the ways I’d like to, and letting Owen cry more than I ever let Anna.
Guilt, guilt and guilt.
Can you see why I’m having such a hard time admitting my struggles publicly? It’s humbling, this parenting thing.
But then, earlier this week, I read a post from Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy. And it was EXACTLY what I needed to read.
“So many women are afraid to speak their struggles, for fear of being perceived as grouchy or even shameful. They feel their life is easy, relatively speaking: they have no cause for complaint, not really. Not compared to what others suffer. Or they’re afraid that if they speak up about the hard in their lives, they’ll deny the good that comes with it.”
I decided after reading Anne’s words that I can’t just present the good and happy parts of our life—that’s not fair to anyone. Community is built on authenticity. I’d never want this place to be THE LESLEY SHOW, but I run the risk of it becoming so if I only present one side of my life.
As French blogger Garance Doré said, we put an edited version of ourselves online.
I show a more idealized version of my life and the things I see. I was never trying to show reality, but rather the world as I want to see it and myself as I want to be. So we’re all the same, we edit ourselves, we show the best things, but it’s also sometimes good to say, “Okay, there’s also crap happening and it’s fine.
There are a few things I’m doing to help survive this newborn season. One is making a daily short list of our successes that day, and things I’m grateful for. Some days the list says: Took a long shower / Owen fell asleep on his own and stayed sleeping for an hour!/Jonathan and I had a great spaghetti dinner together / Went to bed early.
I’m also looking at things with a new perspective…
In Anne’s post (which you should read!) she talks about watching an Ironman competition. Anne notes that when an athlete is on the incline, it gets harder before it gets easier.
I realized that right now we’re still on the incline. We’re in the middle of the crazy marathon of newborn days, and we’re not exactly sure when we’ll reach the summit. We know, from doing this before, the summit comes faster than we think. (I’m hoping by the 3 month mark!) But even though we’ve run this type of race, the course is different. Our children are unique people and there are stages and phases with Owen that won’t look like they did with Anna.
When it comes down to it, there’s no need to compare my racecourse to other people’s racecourses. They all have inclines and valleys so I don’t have to be embarrassed when I’m running slower, or taking another water break, or laying comatose at the first aid station.
If you’re in a season of parenting that feels hard, I hope you’ll feel safe to speak your struggles just like I’m learning to do. There’s freedom in being honest. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, a person on the racecourse sidelines will jump in and run with you.
Thanks for running with me.