Everyone knows the phrase “I have two under two”. You don’t even have to preface the conversation by saying you’re a mother. Simply saying the aforementioned statement will not only bring about a general understanding of what stage of life you are currently in, it will also typically be followed by raised eyebrows, a sudden concern for your mental safety and followed by a cliche phrase such as “You’ve got you’re hands full!” or “Whoa. You’re in the thick of it!”. And—you know what?—while the reaction can get old after the millionth time, it is completely validated.
You are in the thick of it. You do have your hands full. You are mentally exhausted and questioning your every decision and desire and life-plan. Your priorities have not only changed, they are unrecognizable. Who was that band that your 20-year old self had to score tickets to or you would simply die? What was the name of that spot that you went to every Sunday for endless mimosas and pedicures? Where is that designer bag that your pre-baby self spent an entire paycheck on because it was going to be your go-to tote for when you were traveling the world? I don’t know either but it is probably still holding your passport.
Enter the first year of the two under two part of your life. Feeding your newborn every two hours and having energy to chase a toddler suddenly is your priority. Using those precious moments when baby is sleeping to pump milk and wash bottles and cuddle your first-born is priority. Laundry is priority else you suddenly find yourself frantically searching for a onesie after a middle of the night blowout and torture yourself with guilt for having just swaddled your newborn in your old college t-shirt because there was nothing salvageable from the pile of clothes soaked in bodily fluids. Your nights out are even different because the clock is ticking before you need to be back home and when you do arrive you need to be a responsible, reliable adult who can wake up for the smallest of whimpers and be ready to play at 5am. Your priority is checking Amazon reviews on baby products and saving up your paycheck to buy that awesome double stroller that is going to change your life. It is vetting pediatricians and childcare options during your lunch hour and researching the best way to approach whatever stage of life your little tot is entering into. It is challenging and messy and HARD. It is experiencing every emotion before 9am each day and trying to hold it together. It is crying in the bathroom because you don’t want your little boy to see your weakness. It is teaching a toddler exceptionally hard lessons of sharing and being gentle while attempting to show that he is just as important and loved. It is having to choose which baby to pick up when they are both crying and it is having to choose which one to chase after when they both go in opposite directions. It is kissing a boo-boo while breast-feeding at the birthday party. The adult birthday party. It is canceling your fancy NYE plans to go out for the first time since birthing your second child and having to return the pretty dress because baby came down with a fever. And sometimes it is sending out a group text to your closest friends from the depths of your storage closet and relaying to them your need for immediate reinforcement because you are on the verge of cracking and have considered walking right out of the door and to your local bar. But you don’t walk out. You never have and you never will and deep down you know that, but you are just so desperate for a conversation and you want to be held and told that you are awesome and doing a kick ass job. And, mamma, you are.
Fast forward to the two under three part of your life. Now priorities are getting two toddlers changed, fed, dressed and out the door before 7am on a weekday so you can can rush to catch a bus to your full time job. It is attempting to get to a coffee shop before the next melt down on a weekend morning and taking your kids to the park where “We are going to have fun, dammit!!”. It is keeping your children healthy and happy and safe and well-rounded and provided for. It is finding balance between home and work and it is about finding balance between sharing your attention amongst two little people that need you right this second but for two different things. It is packing like a back-country hiker just to go for a playdate. It is acquiring that first stomach bug that all three of you eventually share and having to bunker down for four days and push through. It is putting your expensive serving bowls in the locked cabinet and opening space for the endless amounts of sippy cups that inevitably have missing tops and straws and plastic suction inserts. It is cleaning up spill after spill after spill after spill after spill. It is learning ABC’s and nursery rhymes. It is story time in which one child gets mad at the other for prematurely turning the page and then the page-turning child crying because she hates when he’s upset. It is Tyrannosaurus rex’s, baby dolls, monster trucks and bows. It is preparing three full meals every night for dinner because you suddenly have miniature ravenous people in your home that have the appetite of a pro-football player. It is one child learning to walk while the other learns to ride the scooter. And, most rewardingly, it is a multitude of “mommy’s” and “hold me’s” and “I love you’s” and “more kisses”. It is everything that you have made a priority for the last two years reaping blossoms. It is your children learning something new each and every day and being eager to show it to you. And it is magic.
No one ever said having two under two would be easy and no one ever will. Neither is two under three or two under ten or two under twenty-five. You are a mother and your priorities have changed. It is four eyes and two sets of hands looking up and reaching out to you. It is two little promises of beautiful souls that you blessed this world with and to them you are their world. One day it will be balancing baseball games with ballet lessons. It will be nursing a broken heart and mending a broken arm. It will be first-time driving lessons that will send you back to the depths of your storage closet vowing to never get in a vehicle again. It will be exhausting PTA meetings and dealing with “those” parents. Yes, soon it will be school dances, bullying, honor roll awards, drug prevention, sex education, sports, gossip and keeping your cool when your teenage daughter rolls her eyes and tells you that you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Until then, mamma, soak up these baby and toddler years. Have a glass of wine if you feel like it. Who cares what time it is? You are in the two under club and you are rocking every stage of it!