This last year has been one of the best, and one of the hardest, in my life. In many ways, I felt like a brand new mother this year. Having one baby was challenging. Life changing. So, so, incredibly hard. I felt like I made all the rookie mistakes with Anthony - mistakes I swore I'd never make with my second. 'I learned the hard way' I said. Baby #2 will fall sleep on their own. Will sleep through the night. Will not sleep in my bed. My convictions did not change when we found out Baby #2 was actually Baby #2 AND Baby #3. I was going to things differently this time.
In exactly one week, Luca & James will turn one. Looking back on the last year - the anticipation of their arrival, juggling two newborns and a toddler, learning to enjoy the dance of it all - I can say I've grown in ways I never imagined. With Anthony, I always felt like I was playing house. Like someone was going to walk in one day and take it all away. That I didn't really know what I was doing. Luca and James changed all of that.
ONE // I Did Not Screw Up My Children
Just a few years ago, I longingly gazed at the moms who had "easy" children. They were always happy, slept all night, never fussed, sat and played alone for hours... and I thought I somehow made Anthony high-maintenance. Was it my daily cup of coffee when I was pregnant? The formula I supplemented with? The twins - arguably exposed to identical environments from conception, and only separated in age by 11 minutes - have polar opposite personalities. One can fall asleep on his own the second you lay him down. The other, needs to be cuddled. One is loud and rambunctious and never stops moving. The other? More reserved, quiet, shy and is happy to sit on your lap and just 'be'. My children are who they are, not because of something I did - or did not do. They become who they are because of something and someone far greater than me, and embracing their differences is all part of becoming a parent.
TWO // How to Be the Mom
I tend to avoid confrontation at all costs. I'm the peacemaker, and never want anyone to think I'm the bad guy. With Anthony, I wasn't always the Mom I should have been. I found it hard to speak up for what I thought was right, or what I felt needed to be done. I always held a professionals opinion above my own - if the doctor said 'let's wait and see', more often than not, that's what I did. And most times, that was fine. But there were plenty of times when it wasn't. Where 4 trips to the doctor were necessary because I didn't say what I felt the first time - that Anthony was getting sicker when he should be getting better. Thank God it was never anything serious, but plenty of times I regretted not saying what I thought, because I didn't want the doctors or nurses to not like me. When Luca & James were born, that all changed. I realized that it's my responsibly to be their advocate at all times, not just when they've been sick for two weeks. They deserve a mom who doesn't shy away from the doctor just because she doesn't want to seem confrontational. I need to BE the mom. I now ask 100 questions to the nurse without caring if she thinks I'm annoying. I don't apologize more than once for taking up too much space with my double stroller or because someone is impatiently waiting for me to be done buckling them in their car seats so they can get in their car. I say 'no' when someone has the sniffles and wants to hold them. I finally feel confident in my right to be those things - to say those things - to be the mom they need me to be.
THREE // Whatever It Takes
I could probably write an entire post on this, but countless people asked me if we were going to have help once the twins came home. As in, a night nurse. A friend with twins actually told me that not hiring someone was going to be a huge mistake. And to be clear, we did have a lot of help during the day. Monday through Friday, when Craig was at work, we had at least one grandparent here to help. Sometimes two. To help bring A to preschool, to help with the laundry, to be an extra set of hands when I had to shower or needed someone to console the twin that had to wait to eat. At night? Every night - it was just us. Every two hours, for 8 weeks, we'd get up and start our 45 minute process. I'd take one twin to nurse, Craig would take the other for a diaper change. Then we'd switch. And then we'd swaddle, soothe, and get them back to sleep. We'd sleep for an hour, and do it all again. For 8 weeks. And we were exhausted. Actually, exhausted does not describe the depth of our tiredness. But never once did I think going into this, that someone else should be doing that for me. That I'd pay someone to do the dirty work, so I could wake up refreshed and energized. Because you know what? You do whatever it takes. You live on coffee and forget to change the laundry and leave the house without diapers (true story), but you adapt. You do whatever it takes. Its a season of life and it doesn't last forever, and circles under your eyes are a badge honor that I wear with pride.
FOUR // Loving Them Is All That Matters
In the end, the love I give them is all that matters. They will not look back on their childhood and wish that I did more Pinterest crafts, or read more books, or had their closets color coordinated. They'll look back and remember laughing in the kitchen over dinner, snuggling under the covers on cold winter nights, and that they were loved beyond measure. All the other stuff, is just that - stuff. Loving them is the most important job I have, and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to do it well.
I'm writing this post at 11:30, with a sleeping Luca on my lap. He's getting his molars, and sleep has been hard the last few days. And I'm the only one he wants. This wasn't how tonight was supposed to go - once the kids are asleep, its my time to get work done and finish up orders and catch up on the DVR. But, you do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to get through the next hour, or the next day... that's just what you do.
Next weekend we're celebrating Luca & James' birthday with an appropriately-themed circus party. It perfectly sums up this season of our life - every day is a circus. By the time I get home from work, two of three kids are crying, there are dirty diapers on the porch that need to be brought to the trash, the dog is crying to eat, the house phone is ringing and we're trying to remember what time the twins had a bottle. Most nights Craig and I just laugh to ourselves that this is our life. Next weekend is a celebration of an amazing first year for the twins, but also a very big celebration for us as a family. We survived, we laughed, we loved - and it is only just the beginning.
Pictures c/o Tanya Charlesworth
Are you new here? Hi! I’m Jillian. Wife & mom, and small business owner. Bella Carta Boutique is a custom design studio, specializing in invitations, announcements and stationery for all of life’s most special occasions. We are located in Northern New Jersey, but serve clients in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and can ship worldwide. If you’d like to work with us, or learn more about what we do, please visit our CONTACT page!