Benjamin was just 19 months old when Jack was born. He wasn’t even a year old when I became pregnant with Jack. I was totally nauseous and exhausted on his first birthday, and he was barely weaned! Now, I’m weeks away from adding another infant to my toddler craziness, and I’m probably in complete denial about what’s coming. But, I have to say, I’ve started emerging from the dark tunnel of toddler and babies into the light!
Benjamin was talking a lot for his age, but still very much a baby-toddler when Jack showed up. He wasn’t potty trained, too little for preschool and wanted to be held still quite a bit. It was really hard balancing a baby and little toddler. I had to walk and nurse a lot. Jack was fussy at night, making it really hard for me to be anywhere near present or available for Benjamin. All of the sudden, my hands were so full. More than I could’ve imagined. I needed another pair of arms that I didn’t have. I survived by wearing Jack a lot. That way, my hands were at least free to grab, wrangle and manage an almost-two-year-old.
Jack was my go-go baby right away. We couldn’t sit in the house and just be all cozy and snugly (like you can with your first) for long because Benjamin is not a sit-down-and-play little boy. He’s a run, jump, yell, attention-needing, intelligent ball of energy that requires a variety of activity, exercise and mental stimulation. He’s also not afraid of negative attention, just to in the lime light. Those of you who have a child with this type of personality know the gist of what I am getting at. The most basic way to describe him is beautifully strong-willed and active. Adding an infant in my arms and on me at all times really limited my mobility and ability at times. Still, we persevered and Jack tagged a long mostly happy and enjoying Benjamin as entertainment.
It didn’t get easier. I kept telling myself I just need a bit longer, and it will get easier. Jack started crawling, and they were in different directions. Pretty soon Jack started developing a personality and mind of his own, and it didn’t always match what Benjamin needed. It actually rarely did. Jack was in the high chair snacking, Benjamin was outside. Jack was nursing and Benjamin was in the tub. Benjamin was waking up, I was just getting Jack to sleep. I was constantly pulled in different directions, trying to balance attention and needs. I thought, “As soon as Jack is walking, it will be way better!” I kept coming up with these dreams of how things would be more manageable with each milestone, only to find it was still hard! Jack started walking, but still wanted to be held, and then was falling A LOT! A new hazard developed that took more time and attention for damage control, while Benjamin gained more speed and ideas! Benjamin used to like to go on walks with me, but I had to slow down and either have Jack on my back or walking too slow. I mourned some of the one-on-one time that Benjamin and I had, where we could tell stories and play games with no interruptions.
I also ran out of energy. It was difficult to care for the both of them, then have extra energy for each one individually. Guilt still haunts me because Jack never had much of my undivided attention. He was always going along with the ride, enjoying the entertainment, but not experiencing the special mommy-time that Benjamin had.
Then, things turned. Jack started talking and playing more, and Benjamin actually noticed him as a human, not a baby stuck to mama. He became a person, friend and playmate that existed for more than just taking mom’s attention. Benjamin coped pretty well with the addition of Jack, but he didn’t respond to Jack his brother for quite some time. Then, when Jack hit about 20 months and Benjamin was just over three, they matured. They saw each other. They engaged with each other. I was off the hook! (almost). Something shifted in the universe, which us mom’s all know as time. Time has a way of easing our struggles, teaching us lessons and decreasing our burdens. My hour finally came! They started playing more and more together, enjoying each other’s company, and now they sleep together in the same bed. It is the cutest. They are finally brothers, not a toddler and a baby needing mom at all the same times for different reasons. They are in sync, together and loving each other.
If you’re a mama struggling with a toddler and baby who are little and close in age, it’s hard. And it doesn’t get easier for a while. Take your time to find ways to survive that keep you sane because its short-lived. They will blossom into siblings, and you will be so proud, and so happy that they are close in age because they are that much closer in heart as well! It’s worth it, and you can do it. It’s a season, and you will learn and grow from it. I wrote a post on seasons of change, and the amazing growth that God has in store for us when we go through seasons of change. It’s uplifting and encouraging when you are in the hard part.
Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
I love this Psalm because in the midst of when we feel tired or weary, God is there to strengthen us and bring us through the hardship into the blessing and the joy. It get’s better mamas, and the two littles under two will be such a joy!