Two is much harder than one

Yes, it seems obviously self evident, but I never realized just how much more difficult it would be. It is not a simple equation where 2 kids = 2 times as hard. It’s more than that.

With one kid, we always had some respite close at hand – the other parent. If what you were doing wasn’t working, you could always do the hand off and take a break. Now, there is no hand off, only a trade. You trade a newborn for a 3 year old or vice versa. You are always dealing with kids.

And the problems with The Girl are becoming more complex. No longer will a simple kiss of a boo-boo make things better. At three, her emotional state is becoming increasingly complex, but she isn’t sophisticated enough to label the entire range of her emotions, so often she just lashes out with frustration. Like every other stage of childhood with her, it feels new, unusual and a bit scary as we head into new territory and try to guide her through all these complex and conflicting emotions. It has been difficult and frustrating to keep her on an even keel.

Then there is the guilt. For the past 2 months, Mom and I have been walking this line of feeling guilty for hoisting this new baby onto The Girl (after all, she never asked for things to change like this) and guilt for feeling like we are not devoting enough time to The Boy. Time spent with one is time not spent with the other, and sometimes the look on The Girl’s face as she wanders off to play by herself is enough to break my heart. But then I temper that with the fact that she had us all to herself for three years – a luxury her little brother probably isn’t going to have until he is a teenager, at which point he probably won’t want it.

I keep repeating my mantra; this, too, shall pass. These are all phases. And don’t get me wrong – there are wonderful rewards. Not a day goes by with The Girl that, despite the frustration, we don’t make each other laugh. And, closing in on three months old, The Boy is just starting to “wake up”. He smiles and coos and gurgles, and reminds me each day to try and enjoy some moments with him as these phases are so short. After all, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was doing the same with The Girl.

One response to “Two is much harder than one

  1. Our 2 are almost exactly the same age apart as yours. Our eldest is now 7 and his little sister is 4. I swear, up until our youngest tunred 3, the second one showing up was like some major endurance test. You get all of the sleep deprivation, but none of the naps (‘cos the older one doesn’t nap any more). Maybe if you are lucky and have tons of family around or a strong support network then the first few years with two can be a breeze, but my experience is that it can be quite tiring. The good news, yes it’s true, it does pass. What helped for us was working with my wife to carve out time for both of ourselves, and we still are working with the kids to help them respect each others’ needs for time and attention.