I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the transition to two kids and how I’m coping with it. And I’ve realized that there is one emotion that flavors every interaction with my family and overshadows every day: guilt.
I feel guilty for changing DB’s life in such a huge way. Yes, it takes two to tango and he obviously agreed to have another child. BUT I was the driving force behind it; he would have been perfectly happy as a family of three. So now we have another kid and we’re not so sure about her and I feel guilty because I’ve ruined his life forever and it’s all my fault. I feel guilty about asking him to do things for the girls. I feel guilty about asking him to do things around the house. I feel guilty that he can’t sit in the backyard and drink beer and play games on the iPad all day because, obviously, that’s what he would be doing if I hadn’t forced him to have another child. I feel guilty that, when we do get the brief moment to ourselves, 9 times out of 10 I’ve got things I have to do for the girls so I can’t relax or I’m so tired that I have no interest in anything other than losing myself in a trashy romance novel for 5 minutes. I feel guilty that unless it happens at the ass crack of dawn before the kids are awake, it’s not happening at all. I feel guilty that, because I feel guilty about disrupting everyone’s routine, I’ve taken over the burden of baby care and DB hasn’t had the chance to get to know BIT like he did when I let him help more with taking care of LB as a baby.
I feel guilty for upsetting the Littlest Brewster’s routine by adding BIT into the mix. Granted, I think it’s good to make children learn manners and how to put other people’s needs ahead of their own, but it’s still hard to tell her she has to wait because BIT needs me first. And with the addition of another daycare tuition, we simply can’t afford to keep her at the school where she’s been her whole life (with the small exception of our brief and disastrous foray into home daycare). So I feel guilty that she’s having to leave behind her established friends and the teachers who love her and start over at a new school. What if the new school’s not as good? What if the teachers don’t love her as much? What if it’s not stimulating enough and she becomes a delinquent due to not being challenged?!?!
I feel guilty for not giving BIT the time and attention I gave LB as a baby. But that time and attention simply doesn’t exist anymore. LB was rolling over by now and BIT isn’t – I feel like it’s my fault because I didn’t spend enough time doing “tummy time” with BIT while I was home on leave. I feel guilty that sometimes I resent BIT and the changes her arrival has brought about within our family. I feel guilty that I am not 100% happy all the time that she’s here. I feel guilty that I spend so much time comparing her to LB, who we all remember was a ridonculously easy baby and therefore puts her poor sister to shame. I feel guilty that, while I love BIT, I’m not head over heels in love with BIT. I feel guilty that sometimes it seems like I treat her as an afterthought and just schlep her along with us rather than doing things that focus on her.
I feel guilty for not having the time or energy to get back into running as quickly as I wanted. I feel guilty for not taking the time for myself to get away, if only for a cup of coffee. Then, when I do, I feel guilty for taking time away from my kids and husband.
I feel guilty for feeling guilty.
I remember when I was pregnant this time and Sarah told me that it took her a good 6 months to get comfortable (and happy) with the routine of two kids. And I secretly thought, “It won’t take me that long! I’m going to be happy immediately!”
What I fail to remember is that I had these exact same feelings when the Littlest Brewster joined our family. Throughout my pregnancy, I was convinced that I was going to see our child and immediately fall head over heels in love and we were going to be an ecstatic family of three.
And I saw her. And I loved her. But I certainly didn’t like her and there were times I asked the DreadBrewer if he thought my parents would be willing to take her and raise her as their own. And I resented her for upsetting our routine so much and making us change when we were so comfortable with the status quo. And I felt guilty.
And, within a few weeks or months, I forgot the way things used to be. I got used to the new normal. I fell head over heels in love with the Littlest Brewster. And I got over the guilt.
So when people ask me how we’re doing, I tell them, “Honestly, it’s been a really hard transition. Harder than I thought it would be.” And if half of the people look at me askance and probably think to themselves what a terrible mother I am, at least the other half commiserate with me and share their own stories from the trenches.
And I know that I’m not alone and I’m not crazy and I’m not a bad mom. And that eventually, I’ll get over the guilt.