is it worth it?

It started with potty training.

(It always starts with potty training, yes?)

We began on a Monday, planning to take full advantage of the rainy weather. Our house was stocked: juice boxes, salty snacks, tons of fiber, and two brand new packs of Cars undies. Bring it on.

At the risk of being that mom blogger, this is what I really want to say about potty training: the potty training was easy; the poop training is a whole different story. It’s all fun and games until your toddler gets constipated.

Moving on.

Picture this: Brett and I stuck in the house for an entire week with a toddler peeing on the floor and a newborn that needs to nurse every two hours and so much rain and so much laundry and nobody is sleeping well and is it okay to give your toddler a laxative?

I’m an optimist; always have been, maybe always will be. When I read a book about running a 3-day potty training bootcamp, I assume we will be done potty training in 3 days, maybe 4 or 5 at the most. We needed to be done quickly because on day 5, we had big plans—The Polar Express. We had dropped a serious chunk of change on tickets months ago. It was going to be our Big Family Christmas Experience: a one hour train ride to the North Pole, a visit with Santa, cookies and hot chocolate, and our best friends in tow. All the ingredients for a magical evening.

Poor planning on our part meant that on Polar Express day, Everett was still potty training and Carson was due for his two-month shots.

The day was sheer chaos, as you can imagine. Everett had a tummy ache and in a moment of preventative panic, we decided to put him back in a diaper so he wouldn’t have an accident onboard a one-hour train ride with no bathroom. Anytime Carson was awake, he was screaming like a banshee.

We left the house late, as usual, and our process of getting into the car was worthy of reality television. Sometimes I wish we had a nanny cam set up in our garage to capture the pure shitshow that is our family trying to leave the house with two kids.

While Brett put both kids in the car, I triple checked the diaper bag: burp cloths, diapers, pacifier, Solly wrap, extra change of clothes for both kids, sippy cup for Ev, snacks, wallet, phone. Check check check. I could hear Everett whining from the car for his hot wheels jeep because he simply cannot function with less than four toys in the carseat with him.

Forgot a jacket for Everett.
Forgot a sweater for myself.

Back inside.
Back inside.

My phone had 20% battery, need the USB charger.
Back inside.

(Heaven forbid my phone dies and I no longer have the ability to capture these impending magical memories.)

Carson woke up screaming bloody murder, red face, hyperventilating. Need Tylenol stat.
Back inside.

Where’s the syringe? We have no syringe? What happened to our medicine syringe?! WHY ARE WE SO UNPREPARED FOR LIFE AT THIS VERY MOMENT?

We pulled out of the driveway as Everett was crying and Carson was screaming. Brett and I looked at each other and laughed, not because anything was funny but because everything was stressful in a way that makes you laugh awkwardly as a coping mechanism. This better be worth it, I thought to myself.

We parked in the structure and started walking towards the ticket station. It was cold and just starting to rain and Everett was complaining that his tummy hurt and Carson was squirming in the wrap, attached to me with a permanent “shhhhhh” streaming from my lips. Our friends showed up and saved the day with a syringe, like drug dealers only better.

Once aboard the train, we all got settled. There were children everywhere. I shouldn’t be allowed to say this because I am a mother but when there are children everywhere, I want to evacuate. This is how I know I am not meant to be a preschool teacher or a childcare worker or even a nanny for more than three children. Our train was very, very loud.

30 minutes later we arrived at the “North Pole”. Carson was starting to fuss so I rocked my body back and forth, holding him close in the wrap and shushing him as best I could. I looked over to my right just in time to see Everett with his hands pressed against the window, taking in the sights. When Santa came into view he started waving in that adorable way that toddlers do, shaking his entire arm back and forth with excitement.

“Hi Santa! Hi Santa!” he said over and over again.

I stared at him, desperately trying to see Santa from his perspective. I tried to see the magic that he saw. The innocence. The belief. For two minutes, I forgot all about potty training and the rain and Carson’s shots and the drama of us leaving the house. For two whole minutes, I watched the world through my toddler’s eyes and my heart skipped a beat watching pretend snow fall over pretend elves wrapping pretend presents.

And then those two minutes were over.

And then Carson lost his mind. The only thing worse than a screaming baby is a screaming baby in a confined space, such as a train. I frantically ripped him out of the wrap, attempting to unwrap fabric from my body while simultaneously unsnapping my bra strap and arranging the nursing cover around my neck.

Santa was on the train now, walking down the aisle passing out bells. He nonchalantly threw two at me and made a joke about me having my hands full.

Getting off the train was just as much work as getting on it. Can you take the diaper bag? Don’t forget Ev’s blanket. I need to get the wrap back on. Is that your sweater? Where’s my phone?

We walked back to the car and Everett started to cry, complaining of a tummy ache again. Carson screamed while I wrestled him into the carseat. I wish I could scream sometimes and get away with it.

Brett and I climbed into the car last, exhausted and hungry.

What do you want for dinner?

I don’t care.

I’m hungry.

Me too.

Should we stop and get something?

With the kids melting down in the backseat? No.

We lament over everything: the potty training, our empty fridge at home, the diaper bag that is never properly packed. I tell him that sometimes I am tired of life feeling so hard. That in the grand scheme of things, our life isn’t hard, but that taking care of a toddler and a newborn is a special kind of difficult. I feel like I spend hours and hours and hours trying to get us to wherever we need to be, just so we can be there for 30 minutes and not fall apart. It feels like it takes all day to prepare for something like The Polar Express just so I can watch my toddler wave to Santa for two whole minutes.

And I am left with the burning question: is it worth it?

Truth be told, it would be a lot easier to stay home and turn on the TV than go anywhere with two kids. It would be much easier to be permanent homebodies, only leaving the house for an occasional run to Chipotle when necessary.

But what kind of life is that?

And this is where being a parent becomes tricky because when you are a parent, you live an entirely different reality from your child. When I talk to Everett about The Polar Express, he remembers going on a choo choo in his jammies and eating a cookie and seeing Santa. And to him, it was perfect. He doesn’t remember (or care) that it was chaos getting in the car. He doesn’t remember or care that his baby brother was screaming half the night. He probably doesn’t even remember that he had a tummy ache. Those two minutes of magic that I witnessed? Those two minutes were the whole night for Ev.

And maybe that’s just what parenting is in this season. Maybe this is what life will be like for the next couple of years raising two small children who seem to need something every second of every day. Maybe I will spend 95% of our days working and preparing and cleaning and packing and checking and double checking and triple checking that damn diaper bag. All so that we can have 5% magic in our lives.

Is it worth it?

You tell me.

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the ratio.

Lee Brown Photography -26

“So, what was the hardest part of going from one kid to two kids?”

A bunch of us were lounging in Christina’s living room, drinking champagne and eating popcorn while Mean Girls played in the background. Lee was sitting on the birthing ball, rolling her pregnant body back and forth.

My friend Caelin thought for a minute before delivering a well-earned nugget of wisdom. She said the hardest transition from one kid to two kids was figuring out how to balance the time that her and her husband spent with each child. She said they quickly fell into a routine—her husband took care of the toddler and she took care of the baby.

“Sometimes I wanted him to take the screaming baby so I could play with Keller, you know? I missed him,” she explained.

We all nodded in agreement. I could totally see that happening to us, I remember thinking to myself. I wasn’t even pregnant yet, but went straight home that night and relayed the entire conversation to Brett.

“Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen when we have another baby, okay?”

***

Those two days in the birthing center after Carson was born felt like a mini vacation of sorts. It was just so…..quiet. I’m pretty sure I never even knew the meaning of quiet until I had a child. Quiet is the absence of sound. It’s something I never truly appreciated until my life was full of sounds.

Everett came to meet Carson late in the afternoon on the day he was born. I had labored that whole night before, pushed all morning, and delivered him at 6:51am. The lights were dim in our room and Brett and I had been napping on and off as best we could. Carson was in a deep sleep, basically sleeping away his first day on earth.

Around 4:30pm, in true 2.5 year-old fashion, Everett arrived full of sounds. And while I was so happy to see him and loved watching him hold his baby brother for the first time, I was also secretly relieved when it was time for him to go home.

I just wanted it to be quiet again.

***

When we came home on Monday afternoon, our life snapped back together. We fell into a non-routine routine: breakfast, outings, chores, spontaneous naps, visitors. It all felt very whirlwind-ish, especially considering the fact that Carson was born an entire month early. There were several moments where Brett and I looked at our two kids and looked at each other, exchanging a knowing glance. Did that just happen? 

I was recovering—mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, everything. I spent a lot of time in bed and a lot of time on the couch. I was breastfeeding, sleeping, doing skin-to-skin, tending to my broken lady parts. I was marveling at Carson, kissing him, smelling him, holding him, loving him.

Meanwhile, Everett was running around the house like a maniac. A well-behaved maniac, because Everett is very well-behaved, but he’s still 2.5 years old and has an insane amount of energy. Brett took him to the park, took him to Jamba Juice, changed every diaper, made every snack. He completely took over Everett duty while I stayed in bed with Carson, snuggled under the duvet cover with the door closed in complete isolation.

And I was happy.

It shocked me, how happy I was. I didn’t mind one bit that Brett was caring for Everett while I cared for Carson. My body was perfectly content to lounge in bed and breastfeed rather than chase a nap-protesting toddler down the hallway every afternoon.

I didn’t feel guilty in the slightest, until I started to feel guilty for not feeling guilty. (Hi, motherhood).

A week later, I confided in my friend Lesley that I was starting to feel guilty about the lack of guilt I felt for not spending as much time with Everett. She reassured me that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing: I was bonding with my newborn baby and keeping him alive. Everett was enjoying special one-on-one time with his dad—something he never gets for whole days at a time. It was okay.

Brett was 95% on Everett; I was 95% on Carson. Our ratio was skewed because we were in survival mode. It was okay. 

Eight weeks later, we are still figuring out the ratio of balancing time with both children. When Brett is home, I’d say we’re still at a 70/30, inching slowly towards 60/40. I guess 50/50 is the ultimate goal, although that seems like something that will only happen once in a blue moon when all the stars align. Most likely, we will shift back and forth depending on the day, the week, who has more energy, who has more patience, who can handle which kid the best in any given circumstance. I’ll tell you one thing for sure: this two kid business is no joke. 

And if we ever have a third? Lord, bless that baby. Let’s hope we never accidentally leave them at the grocery store.

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five little things on a friday.

WMHR-1

1. Have you heard of Voxer? My friend Lesley confessed to me a while back that she loves to leave people long voicemail messages. Huh? I HATE leaving voicemails…..or so I thought. As it turns out, leaving long voicemails via Voxer is pretty magical, especially between two friends who live far away from each other. The thing is: it’s really hard to talk on the phone when you have young children whining and/or crying in the background. I can’t tell you how many times my phone calls with friends get interrupted because Everett needs a snack or Carson spit up or I tripped on a hot wheels car. With Voxer, you can just leave each other messages whenever it’s convenient for you. It’s easier than trying to talk on the phone over kids in the background, and way more efficient than typing long e-mails back and forth. Two thumbs up from this previous voicemail hater.

2. You guys. Let’s talk about Serial. I finally jumped on the bandwagon over the long weekend and WHERE HAVE I BEEN? It’s like Dateline in a podcast, and I am officially hooked. Catch up on all the episodes here in case you have also been living under a rock. (p.s. For those of you not living under a rock, do you think he did it?!)

3. Remember last year how I gave Brett the year of dates for Christmas? I’m over at Coffee + Crumbs this week with a recap of how it went.

4. It’s December 5th and I haven’t ordered my Christmas cards. Even worse? We haven’t taken our Christmas card photo yet (face palm). I don’t even know who I am anymore. Tell me I’m not the only one? Also! My favorite website for keeping addresses up to date is Postable. Highly, highly recommend if you’re in the market for a keeping-track-of-all-those-addresses solution.

5. Announcement of the century: Brett is officially home on paternity leave. That’s right, folks. MY HUSBAND IS HOME TO HELP TAKE CARE OF THE CHILDREN FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH. Worth all caps, yes? Hallelujah. I plan to take full advantage of this (barre class! pedicures! Target by myself! naps! so many things!). It’s okay to be a little jealous.

And with that, have a happy happy weekend, friends!

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gift guide for babies.

simplegiftsforbabies

Something he wants: IKEA baby gym, wooden helicopter, natural teething/grasping toy, baby’s first blocks

Something he needs: crane humidifier, stroller blanket, bandana bibs, gum massagers

Something he wears: elbow patch tee, cozy leggings, striped one-piece, fox hat, crib shoes

Something he reads: First 100 Words, Polar Bear Polar Bear, A Book of Sleep, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

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carson’s birth announcement.

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Birth announcements, man. I just…..love them.

We used this design from Tiny Prints and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. I contemplated sending one birth announcement/Christmas card hybrid this year, but the over-achieving mom in me really needed for Carson to have his own announcement. You understand this, yes?

Speaking of Christmas cards, today is Cyber Monday and Tiny Prints is offering 40% off ALL CARDS with promo code CYBER40! No minimum. If you haven’t ordered cards yet, carpe diem! I love this one, this one, and this one (in case you needed a suggestion).

p.s. Special thanks to Lee Brown Photography for taking these sweet pictures. See the rest here.

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