Things to remember on days that are rough– or on every day if that’s what it is
© 2015 by Binahkaye Joy
1. Just as water follows the path of least resistance, mothering follows the path of least children crying. This path often includes graham crackers.
2. With two babies, at least one of them will be crying about something every twenty to thirty minutes, or every eight seconds at meal times. This is where you live now; there’s nothing to fix about your existence, nothing to run away from.
3. Lift Every Voice and Sing is a great anthem, and not just for black mothers in America, to sing when everyone else is crying.
4. There is no time to talk on the phone because of all the crying. And in those brief interludes when it is quiet, interrupting the peace to chitchat is blasphemy.
5. Tandem nursing is all about being a good referee. Once everyone’s latch is secure, the next critical thing is to make sure the toddler does not kick, elbow, scratch, or smack the newborn. This task will keep the mind busy and unable to dwell on any unpleasant sensations that may arise from nipples being tugged in different directions. Also, breastfeeding both babies at the same time guarantees an immediate suspension of all crying.
6. Nap at your own risk. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is even more absurd advice with a toddler and an infant. Doing so almost always means the post-napping period will yield a 500% increase in crying while mommy scrambles to do whatever it is she couldn’t miraculously do in her sleep.
7. This mothering path is a chosen path. Even the most uncomfortable and frustrating parts of the motherhood journey are a result of choices made. Except for a postpartum hemorrhoid situation. No way is that of your own doing. Just get relief as fast as you can. (Again, NAP AT YOUR OWN RISK! Be advised, trying to deal with hemorrhoids and two screaming babies is HECTIC!)
8. There is no longer any need to reply verbally or in writing when certain inquiries, like why you’re not attending the all-white pool party three weeks after having a baby, are made. Simply reference a photo of your tandem nursing process or a video clip of the dual crying madness, add the emoticon smiling with the sunshades on, click “send”, and then hurry back to salvage whatever minutes left of Netflix you’ve got before the kiddos wake up.
9. Each child’s birth is a reset button for the mother and the family. For a long while everything will feel jumbled and disorienting. This is called parenting.
10. It’s not your imagination. This mothering work is also lonely work much of the time. The help you ask for won’t always come. The witnesses you seek won’t always be able or willing to see all you do. Sometimes though, in the moments when it feels most impossible to push on, the incessant crying might begin to fade and a hearty nap will finally ensue. (As a reminder, this is a GREAT time to go to the bathroom!)
11. Crying babies are breathing babies. Good tears mean they’re hydrated well. Kicking, swinging, and flexing means their vital signs are most likely positive. This is something you pray for, always.
12. Time has indeed sped up, and will continue to do so with each successive child. Navigating multiple children’s growth frequencies makes life move faster. Ironically though, it will still take longer to do anything now that there’s two of them!
13. When it’s your turn to be the mother, it’s YOUR turn. There are no rewinds or do-overs. Do what FEELS right for YOUR children, always. Others may not, and need not, understand.
14. Everyday your children will give you something to laugh about on their quest for independence. Their indomitable faith in themselves to grow into stronger, wiser beings will be a comfort and a light of hope on rough days when your mothering heart is weary and you realize that you still only have the two hands to do all that needs doing.
15. Your babies trust your instincts. They are counting on you to do the same.
16. There is subtle and definite beauty along this mothering journey. Even if in fact the poop stains never do come out.
Binahkaye Joy is a new mommy, dancer, doula, writer, movement facilitator, and creativity coach. She writes extensively about the intersections of mothering work and the cultivation of a vibrant creative practice. Binahkaye recently gave birth to her second child and captures some of the mystery and magic of mothering two babies in the Rambling Mother of Two collection. Learn more about the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop, the Creative Wellness Lab, and other projects in the works.