They say that it’s exponentially harder to adjust to having two kids than to having one.
They were right.
With my first child I struggled in the first three months with low feelings, stress and anxiety and once even crashed mentally and had to hide away for a night at another house as my thoughts were scaring me and my heart was racing. That was hard, but after implementing a routine and rejigging the balance of our (my husband and my) responsibilities and implementing a few tricks we read about, everything settled down, I felt confident again and raising one child became extremely doable and fluid.
But when you have more than one you can’t always effectively cuddle both at the same time when they are crying, your attention is split and you have to often compromise on the detailed care you give each one and you’re constantly on the go, dressing one then the other, feeding one then the other, entertaining one then the other. To the point where your body aches. It constantly pushes you to that place I described above. It sometimes feels like a speeding car going out of control and you can’t help it from crashing.
Well this time (with baby number two) I again experienced down feelings, stress and anxiety. I didn’t crash in the same way but I crashed in another way. I was aggressive with my son when he wouldn’t stop crying and I was so tired all I could think of was getting him to stop crying and go for a nap. I tried speaking gently and he wouldn’t listen. I put my newborn down in her room and went to give him one on one attention. I rubbed his head but he kept making noises and kicking his legs. My newborn started to cry so I had to go to her. He started to cry again. The car sped up. The wheel turned on its own accord. I couldn’t stop it. I felt like I was about to crash. And then I did. I shouted, I held him strongly on his arm, and I forced him into his bed and told him to stay there.
Then. I. Cried.
I cried because I don’t want to be that mother that parents out of fear and anxiety. I don’t want to be a mother who communicates to her child that he is bad. I don’t want to scar him or make him afraid of me. I felt confused and guilty and lost. I felt afraid of what I could become.
I knew I couldn’t let myself continue in this way. Getting so angry is not sustainable. Getting so angry is so much more dangerous than it is helpful.
So I stepped back. I prayed.
I prayed against my fears that my son would get out of control.
I prayed against the spirit of aggression that makes me react strongly when I feel out of control.
I prayed against the guilt and inadequacy I felt that made me think I could never be good enough of a parent to two children at once.
And I asked Jesus for help.
Fast forward four weeks. My mother is no longer here to help me all the time so I will be plunged into situations like this again countless times. I can’t crash again.
So I pray. I pray continuously for help to be calm, to be compassionate. I pray for wisdom to know what exactly my son is going through. I pray for patience to go through it with him no matter how long it takes. I pray for the heart to forgive him, love him and believe in the goodness in him no matter how he acts. I pray for strength to persevere spiritually and mentally and physically through whatever comes my way.
So the time came. There I was, home by myself with both of them. Nap time had come. It was time to do the mighty juggle. It was time to get into the nap time car and pray it wouldn’t crash.
An hour and a half later after reading books, giving milk, singing, praying, rocking, putting newborn down, picking her back up because she began to bawl, feeding her while patting him, telling him nicely to go to sleep, pleading with him to go to sleep and be a good boy… he was still fighting it and playing in his bed.
I felt it, the car was speeding up.
I prayed that my foot would find the break. I breathed, it slowed down. I knew it would be ok.
He kept crying. The car sped up again. The wheel started turning.
I pleaded with Jesus, ‘Please help me. Why aren’t you helping me? I’ve prayed so much and tried everything and you’re not helping me.’ I was standing outside his door while I said this. Hearing him say dinosaur and rocket in between moaning.
‘Jesus why aren’t you helping me? I’m starting to feel stressed and angry again. The car is speeding again. I don’t want to crash. Jesus help me please.’
And then I heard Jesus speak.
He said, ‘I am helping you. Just not the way you think. I always give you everything you need.’
Then I breathed. I opened the door and firmly told my son to get in his bed and nap without allowing anger to paint my tone. In a controlled but firm manner I just told him to get in his bed, listen to mummy and go to sleep and then I closed the door and I decided to trust Jesus.
Finally, he fell asleep after 5 minutes of moaning.
And now I’m sitting here feeding my newborn (who seems to feed constantly but I’ve just embraced it), reflecting on what Jesus said.
Surely He gives me everything I need.
Surely He was helping me and He will always help me.
Surely if He didn’t help fix the situation the way I wanted Him to He has a greater plan.
Maybe He wants me to learn how to go through tough experiences where there’s no quick fix, to build my perseverance and trust.
Maybe He wants to show me the power of prayer so is teaching me to pray unceasingly and desperately every day like I’ve been doing the last few days.
Maybe He wants me to let go of the wheel and even if the car speeds up over 100mph to still trust that He will make it good for me, that He either won’t let me crash or if I do as a result of being human, He won’t allow me to burn!
Maybe, actually not maybe at all, I declare that, CERTAINLY, He has a plan for my life that is far bigger than this moment and far bigger than I can imagine and His spectacular answer to my prayers was to take me one step further, falling more into His grace, deeper into His love, harder into His hope and longer into His faithfulness.
It will be well with my soul.
And He whispers into my ear once again, ‘I am helping you. I’ll always give you what you need.’
My spirit cries out, ‘I know. Thank you Jesus!’