Parenting

How Will I Manage Being a Different Mom to My Two Different Kids?

“So, are you ready for a few more years of diapers?” This was a question my friend recently asked me in reference to my baby who is due in just a few short months. Our toddler will be almost two-and-a-half years old when our second son is born, which means that we will have been changing poopy diapers for about five years or so when the little one is finally potty trained. That’s a lot of poop, pee, Diaper Genie refills, and thousands of dollars worth of Pampers Swaddlers. Actually until this moment, I never thought about it in those terms. Yikes.

Surprisingly, though, my reaction to my friend wasn’t what he expected. Sure, no one loves wiping butts all day, but that’s not what I’m focused on as we gear up for Baby #2. My concerns run far deeper than the day-to-day challenges of diaper blow-outs, runny noses, shots at the doctor or the seemingly endless singing of lullabies and nursery rhymes.

Currently my toddler is a very active (albeit loving and sweet) little boy. He is chock-full of energy, opinions and yes, tantrums. He’s two, so it’s to be expected. But at the end of the day, especially now that I’m more than halfway through my pregnancy, I am completely spent. Every last bit of strength that I have goes to him and his needs. Sure I am able to get some work done from home everyday, and I put my feet up at night, but by 10 p.m., I have nothing left to give anyone.

When the newborn arrives, suddenly someone else will need mommy. What’s more than that though, he will need me in entirely different ways than my toddler does. And that will be the case for a few years, until both boys are self-sufficient. That is the part that scares me: the prospect of needing to be two different mothers to two little people.

My friend who asked me about the diapers is a father to twin girls. I (carefully) asked if he thought that raising twins, while no doubt exhausting in its own right, might have its benefits, since both children are going through their developmental stages at the same time. Sure, you get two sleepless newborns, two tantrum-y toddlers, and in a few years, two daughters dating at once. But you can handle the situation for both kids in the same way, with the same parenting approach. He agreed that raising twins certainly allows you to get through any given developmental stage, and then never look back.

However with two little ones at different points in their lives, you end up with an almost schizophrenic parenting approach: nurse the baby while chasing the toddler; watch that the little one who is learning to walk doesn’t take a bad tumble while the older one is trying to climb a jungle gym that looks far more advanced than he is ready for; when one is crying because he needs his milk, the other needs to go potty. It seems almost maddening just to think about. I can only imagine what it will be like in practice.

So if I think that I have no more to give at the end of the day right now, I know that my husband and I are in for a paradigm shift when the baby is born. And you know what? We will make it work. Everyone does. Of course it might take some time to adjust to giving different parts of myself to different people. It might be a little while before I am able to put my feet up at night and recharge for the next day. Yes, I am scared to death of doing all of this. But in the end, I will have the privilege of being mommy to two incredible little guys. No matter how many poopy diapers they end up giving me.