I had a bowl of Cheerios for lunch. My house looks as though it has
been ransacked. Plates and cups have been abandoned in strange places;
the living room is a tangle of coats, books, shoes and toys. The piles
of laundry in my bedroom have long since become indistinguishable
between clean and dirty and somewhere amongst the disarray, a tumbleweed
of dog hair rolls by. The dogs are furious. “Didn’t we just do this?”
their glares seem to shout. “Have you learned nothing?!” Apparently we
haven’t. There is a newborn in the house.
A seminar should be
offered to all parents who are contemplating having a second child.
There are certain things you ought to know about the reality of the
situation that no one bothers to tell you — probably because these
things are already obvious to any rational adult. But, you’re not a
rational adult, are you, Prospective Second-Time Parent? You left
rationality behind the moment you started thinking, “Aw, baaaabies!”
instead of, “Ack! Babies!” when confronted with a newborn. Every new
parent goes through a period where the exhaustion and stress of caring
for an infant is still so fresh in their minds that the thought of ever
having another baby is absolutely abhorrant. Eventually, as your child
gets older and your routine regains some sense of normalcy, you start to
forget about the time when showering was a luxury only afforded to you
every four days and you regularly pushed the boundaries of how many days
without sleep constitutes legal insanity.
Lesson One is guided
imagery. Someone sits you down and repeats the following phrase over and
over until you have a panic attack: “Remember what it was like when
your child was a newborn? Now, imagine that, but you still have another
Lesson Two: At some point your older child will try to off
the baby. There may be a honeymoon period where they are enjoying the
role of older sibling and the baby is a novelty, but that will
eventually run out and you will be left dealing with mysteriously
overturned baby furniture and a squalling infant.
Your routine is garbage. This is a physical test. You are presented with
a messy house. You must attempt to clean it, one-handed, holding a
screaming baby while another child follows in your wake, destroying
everything you’ve accomplished like a three-foot-tall tornado.
Four: You must cut yourself some slack. You won’t be able to do
everything and things will fall through the cracks. Last night, I fed my
toddler frozen waffles for dinner. That’s it. Just frozen waffles. He
didn’t even want syrup, so he just ended up with two buttered Eggos. I
chucked him a gummy vitamin to compensate, but I’m still mildly
concerned that he’s going to end up with rickets.
Super Mom, I am
not, but with a three year-old and a two month-old to contend with, I’ll
settle for Adequate Mom. Do I get a cape?
Sarah Erchenbrecher Fryling is a Northwest Ohio columnist who writes about what it’s really like to parent in the 21st century.