“Perhaps it takes courage to raise children” John Steinbeck, East of Eden
A baby and a toddler????
So here I am, preparing for life with two children.
People have told me that the shift from having 1 child to having 2 is much less of a shock to the system than going from 0 to 1.
They’ve warned me that the first year of having a baby and a toddler is indeed tough, but that actually, after that, having more than one child is a bonus. They have each other for company and there isn’t quite the same 1-on-1 pressure to be the main entertainment in the room.
All of this is very comforting. I’ve found myself greedily devouring such tid bits of positivity. But I’m not going to lie. On the brink of “Motherhood II: The return of sleepless nights and days spent in a fog of mental sludge” I find myself with one main, recurring emotion – Fear.
I’ve felt it on and off throughout the pregnancy. It’s only recently though I’ve realised that it’s been a kind of nameless darkness. What am I actually afraid of?
Madwoman in the attic
Firstly I’m scared that the beautiful relationship I have with my daughter will be disrupted, destroyed even. Our almost two years of devoted closeness is coming to an end. I love her so much that the thought of her feeling pushed out, no longer a priority in my life, unloved in any way, is heart breaking to me.
I’m scared about the fact that I already feel stretched juggling life as is. I’m fearful that my second child will be the breaking point, the trigger which transforms me from a (mostly) rational and competent human being into something akin to the madwoman in the attic. A ranting, unkempt and frankly dangerous person to be around.
I’m scared that my relationship with my husband will change again. We’ve (just about!) found our rhythm and routine with our new life as a family. We’re able (just about!) to navigate our way successfully through our different approaches to parenting. Most days we work really well as a team. Whilst there are niggles on both sides from time to time, in the main we’re united, in love with each other and the family we’re growing.
And I’m scared about the loss of time for my creative projects. Having one child has transformed my life to such an extent that it’s only really been relatively recently I’ve been able to claw back a sense of time for me. The thought of losing that again makes me feel sick, as though the walls are closing in…
But here’s the reality. All this fear is founded on staring out into the unknown again. A different unknown to being a first time parent obviously. There are a lot more baby raising knowns that were previously unknown now. But there are new ones shaping up in the shadows, giving me the creeps.
And when I dig a little deeper, the reason this fresh set of unknowns are so scary – despite the fact that I have a solid track record of dealing with pretty much whatever life, including motherhood, has to throw at me – is because of my deepest fear, my fear of failure. Failure as a wife, a mother, a friend; as a creative, intelligent, empathic human being.
There is one, small but significant light in this wall of darkness however. One small candle that casts a more hopeful colour to the scene: I don’t fear not having enough love for this new life that is coming to join us.
Love is something I have felt more powerfully and more passionately present in my life in the past ten years. My sense and awareness of it increasing through the big life events as well as through the small daily acts of kindness and wonder the universe has gently delivered to me. So I don’t doubt love.
80% denial, 20% petrified
That knowledge doesn’t however cancel out my other fears per se. A friend asked me at the weekend how I was feeling about baby number 2. I explained I was 80% in denial and 20% petrified. Being in the same situation she laughed and agreed.
So, the real way I’m preparing for life with two children is by cleaning the fridge, packing my hospital bag, rearranging the house and getting baby things down from the loft. I’m talking to other parents who’ve been there and remembering I didn’t think I could do parenting the first time. And, ultimately, I’m focusing on the fact that the only way is through….
Now, where did I leave that bag of courage…?!