For most of my life I’ve been an only child. Yes, I have sisters (a half-sister and step-sister if you’re into to labels, which we are not) but they grew up a thousand miles away from me for most of my childhood and theirs. So, practically speaking, I’m an only child. I didn’t have to share my toys on the regular, I got my mom’s undivided attention, and I lived in a house that was quiet and peaceful.
Growing up I remember heading over to my friend Sarah’s house, enamored by the buzz and bustle of a house that was home to six family members including four sisters. It was wonderfully strange to me, an entirely different experience than my own house, and I loved being there, in the mix of all that was going on.
When asked to describe myself I say I’m an extroverted introvert. Quiet time to decompress is essential. Work-at-home days when I hardly talk to anyone don’t really bother me, I crave a little peace and solitude at the end of a busy day, and too much time with large groups drains me. Sure, I can have the conversations and mingle with the best of them, but at the end of the day I just crave a little slice of quiet.
This spring, as we welcomed our second baby into our home, I realized that the most difficult, jarring part for me was the loss of quiet, of order and organization, of everything in its place. With one kid, it’s possible to keep some semblance of your previous pre-kid life. You can stay on top of the toys, the mess, the noise. It’s possible to do the painting project and clean it up with undivided attention, to read books quietly on the couch, to bake together without interruption. But two is a different thing all together.
With two, your attention is divided, and your toddler a little less supervised. Staying on top of those peanut butter or paint-covered hands? Nearly impossible. Toddler coloring all over their hands and face while you make a bottle? Probable. Mud-covered boots traipsing through your living room? Sure. Spit-up on the baby? You better believe it.
I’m not going to lie and say that it hasn’t driven me absolutely crazy. It has! My neat, orderly, put-together home that I worked so hard to maintain was thrown into chaos when we made the transition to two and for the first two months I spent a ridiculous amount of time chasing my tail trying to stay on top of it all. And I was exhausted. Running after each mess, hastily tossing toys back where they belong, wiping faces and mouths, chasing my tail around and around.
My new world was louder, busier and messier than it had ever been. The introvert inside me bristled against the chaos. And then, something shifted. Over the weeks I’ve grown more accustomed to the loud, the mess, the fact that my house will never be as put together or clean as I want it to be. Sure, I still strive for some level of cleanliness and order, but I’m learning to be okay with lower standards, learning to delight in the chaos that two brings, more willing to roll with the punches.
And now, three months into this life with two kids thing, I find myself saying and thinking things like, “I hope we can have a large family!” and, “I pray God blesses us with four kids!” and, “I love the chaos!” While I’m not sure that we really will have four kids and I certainly still welcome the solitude of a hot, quiet bath at the end of the day, I’m finding that my heart is changing. That I’m handing over my need for order and structure every day in favor of days well-spent, full of cuddles, creativity and learning.
Motherhood is changing me, growing me, molding me in ways I never thought possible, and I’m better because of it.