I have kept two children alive for four weeks now, so that pretty much makes me an expert on being a mother of two, right? On several of these days, I have managed to both shower and eat lunch, which means I’m winning at momming. And on one of those days, we actually packed up our brood and drove ninety minutes in morning rush hour traffic to have professional photos taken. Because Dave’s attempt at an amateur newborn photography session turned out like this:
We did the same thing when child #1 was new too, and in the interest of fairness, I was completely willing to open my wallet and throw some money at the problem again. I obsessed over that first photo session; I researched more photographers than I did for my wedding, I spent an embarrassing amount of money on the perfect outfit at Janie and Jack, and I, of course, spent countless hours on Pinterest looking at pictures of newborns in buckets and pails.
This time around was…different. We used the same photog, my girl at Miss Suzanne Photography, because she does a phenomenal job of making a discontented gremlin and psychotic banshee look like adorable little humans. But there was no Pinterest scourge. There was no outfit. I forgot to tell the photog the gender of my baby ahead of time so she could plan. I threw clean clothes that fit on the toddler and pajamas on the baby, and I showed up to a stunning mansion with greasy hair and no makeup, boob in hand as I tried to pacify the star of the show. And let me tell you, the shoot was a shit show. The baby was awake and annoyed. The toddler was a wiggly mess of youthful energy. But I didn’t freak. The first time mom in me would probably have burst into tears at the messiness of life. But the second time mom in me took a deep breath and Googled nearby places to stop for lunch.
What caused this monumental shift in my attitude? Did I suddenly become all zen after 33 years of anal-retentive, Type-A planning behavior? Well, no. I became a mom of two. And that means you have to chill the heck out and reduce the allotted number of f***s you can give. It means a lot less time to obsess over both the minutiae and your personal hygiene. It means that a day where everyone is fed and breathing is a successful day. It means nothing will ever be perfect, and that’s ok.
And it doesn’t stop with photo shoots. My attitude is different about nearly everything. I’m like a completely different mom, and the mom of yesteryear is a distant memory. In four short weeks, I’ve learned all kinds of things about myself as a mom of two that just aren’t the same as when I first became a mom. Such as:
First-time mom: We did everything together. When A wouldn’t sleep, Dave and I would both go on a long car-ride to calm him down. Then we’d leave him in his car seat, placed on the floor of the living room. We would both sleep on the couch so that we were all in it together.
Second-time mom: The adults in the house no longer outnumber the little people in the house. I haven’t seen Dave in four weeks. It’s man-to-man defense around here.
First-time mom: Man, it’s hard to wake up every three hours. Good thing I can sleep when the baby sleeps.
Second-time mom: Man it’s hard to wake up every three hours. Good thing my 300 K-cups arrived from Amazon yesterday because once my toddler wakes up, I’m on call for the next eighteen hours.
First-time mom: I was so afraid of cutting A’s nails that I just put mittens on him for three months.
Second-time mom: I started hacking away at Baby CJ’s nails on day four of her life and have had to keep up the manicure every other day because mittens are bullshit.
First-time mom: Dave and I used to stare each other down, each willing the other to be the monster to put the thermometer in that orifice of our first-born. I lost each time. I cried each time.
Second-time mom: Baby seemed warm. Lubed up the thermometer and stuck it right in. Dave was in the other room.
First-time mom: Sobbed my way through cracked nipples, mastitis, and poor latch. Read countless articles online. Refused to give the baby a bottle or pacifier to avoid nipple confusion. Called the lactation consultant every day for a week.
Second-time mom: Forgot how much this shit hurts. Swear a lot.
First-time mom: I will manage to take a shower every day, no matter what time, because I deserve to feel like myself.
Second-time mom: I am testing three different dry shampoos to determine which one will allow me to go the longest without washing my hair.
Now, I’m not one to fool you into thinking I have my life together. Some things are the same. I still compulsively place my hand on the baby’s chest to make sure she is breathing. I still Google anything that seems like the slightest sign of illness or impending doom. I still have no idea what I’m doing and am merely trying my best to not ruin my kids’ lives. I’m just trying to take things as they are and stop trying to make them what I think they’re supposed to be. Because my baby won’t remember being anally scoped to check for a temperature. Because the shower can wait. Because the pictures will turn out fine in the end anyway.