Let's Stop Blaming The Sick Kids (And Their Moms)

So. There's this thing I'm super guilty of, and I'm wondering if you are too. I'm trying to kick the habit because really, it doesn't do anybody, anywhere any good - least of all me or my kids. But I just. can't. helllllllllp myselllllf. 

Here's a story for you. My son had a cold for a few weeks, and over the weekend, the cold suddenly took a turn for the worse: the cough kicked into high gear and began rattling around in his chest, his nose became a faucet we could't turn off, and he started running super high fevers at night. Turned out, that run-of-the-mill cold had become pneumonia.

First thoughts: WHO'S SICK KID INTENTIONALLY GAVE MY SON PNEUMONIA?!?

I quickly thought back over the past few weeks, who we'd spent time with or what places we had used childcare at. The rolodex in my mind turned over and over trying to remember, trying to figure who's kids I'd seen with runny noses, who's kids had a cough, who's kid picked his boogers and wiped them on a toy before handing it to my son.

Okay, let's stop the story. Can you relate, at least a little? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

There are few things in this life worse than sick kids. They're miserable, you're miserable, the entire house is miserable. Everything is covered in snot and tears, no one is sleeping even though everyone needs it. I think finding a kid, or even a mom to blame make us feel just a little bit better about the situation. Because you can't be mad at your kid, you're definitely not going to be mad at yourself, so you pick on poor Johnny for not covering his cough, or Johnny's mom for putting him in nursery when she MOST DEFINITELY KNEW he was sick.

But the blame game has to stop. (Preaching to myself here.) First of all, I'd LOVE to see someone try to prove exactly which kid/mom/family made your kids sick. I mean, I see kids sucking on the bar of the shopping carts all the time. Who's to say they didn't get it there? Sure, you saw a couple runny noses, but your kid picks up chewed gum on the ground and pops it in for a taste test when you're not looking. Unless you live in some sort of fantasized, sanitized health bubble, there are a lot of places a kid can catch a cold.

Sure, sometimes, the culprit is obvious. The kid at the play date with a constant snot drip and a horrible hacking cough that's wandering around touching every toy in sight. *Most* moms know, if your kid is sick, keep them home, or if they start showing symptoms of being sick while out and about, pack up that diaper bag and get home. (And if you did not know this, you do now. So do yourself a favor and write that down - it's probably one of the most important rules in the unwritten handbook on maintaining mom-friendships.) Heck, I've even had moms text me to let me know their kids came down with the flu right after we finished a playdate, and sure enough, the next day, my son has it too. They didn't know their child was sick at the time, but now I know exactly who to blame. But how can I blame them when they had no idea? And even still, knowing the source of the germs won't make your kid get better any faster. This isn't some sci-fi movie where finding patient zero is the end all to healing the entire population.

Kids just get sick. It's a fact. If you've been a mom for any length of time, you know. Despite your best efforts, your children will get sick. Sure, it'd be great if all moms took tons of precautions and sanitized the heck out of their house and anything that ever leaves it, but you can't control them. You can only control you and yourself and maybe/sorta/kinda/not really your children. Which means you're still all going to get sick.

So whatta say we all agree to stop the blame game? It doesn't do anyone any good. Let's just believe the best in each other, that we're all doing the best we can to stop the germ spread and trust that no matter what, it's not intentional.  Remember that story up there? Yeah, we were staying with family when my son's fever started in the middle of the night - and they have a four month old. I about died thinking about how we just unintentionally infected them. You see, the fact of the matter is, while you're sitting there blaming another kid or mother or whoever, in a few days, someone else can and will be blaming you.

Nobody's perfect, so let's stop the blame game and just chalk it up to building up the immune system.

*On the topic of the "My kid just got sick when we got home, sorry!" text - if you're a mom, do this. It's probably the most humbling/horrible texts to ever write, but it's super helpful for the other mom to at least have a few hours to prep the pedialight and Tylenol.)

When Momma Doubts God's Goodness For Her

I shoved the toy train towards his chest, grumbling something about how he's a big boy and should be able to find his own toys by now. Even though I hadn't touched him, he stumbled back a little from my harsh movements. His whining immediately stopped and he looked up at me through his glasses with sad, and almost a little scared, eyes.

I broke. It wasn't his fault. It wasn't fair to take it out on him. I dropped to my knees, wrapped my arms around him, pulled him close and whispered, "I'm sorry sweetie, forgive me?"

He melted into me; forgiveness comes so easily to the young ones.

All day I had been short on patience. Short on self-control. Short on love. It wasn't my children's faults, but I had nowhere to shed my frustrations, confusion, disappointment. So it came out on the innocent.

I stepped into a bedroom and blinked back tears trying to refocus. I breathed deeply and returned to the children, distracted and unfocused on the present - unable to be the mom I want to be, the mom I should be - because my worries, burdens and doubts fogged my ability to be in the present.

Today I am certain I am a martyr, certain God will never give me what I wish for. Certain that I will have to continue to watch my friends, family - and thanks to the internet - complete strangers win and receive, over and over again. God wringing out his cloud of blessing on them like rain, and me, stuck in the dry, parched desert, overlooked and unremembered.

I hear my daughter's frustrations as her cry cracks through my thoughts. I pick her up off tummy time and hold her in my lap. My toddler wants something, but I can't quite focus fast enough to meet his need before he starts to bang the block on the table with impatience. I just stare at him, wondering why he seems to enjoy the loud ringing in his ears, and wondering if he'd ever just stop on his own.

With the block banging on the table, I fall deeper into my thoughts and wonder where God is. I selfishly think, "I have been good - this is how He repays me?" There is a void of doubt in me, it feels that everyone else can ask for wild, crazy things and receive them, but I am stuck with the dull and boring - the leftovers. I receive basic sustenance of the bread and fish, while he lets others discover the treasures of the field. I wonder why he shows his love to everyone else, but not to me. I resign myself that I will always be the orphan, believing I have a father, but never feeling his love, his joy, his affection, his delight in me.

Although at times I have, in this moment, I don't doubt that God loves me, I just doubt that he will ever let me feel it. 

I know that he is not, but lately I have been treating God like a genie god. Bribing him with my righteousness to give me what I want. Like I carry his lamp in my pocket waiting for the moment when I believe I have it right to rub that lamp and wish from him far more than I could ever ask or imagine.

But every time I do the genie never appears - because that's not how it works.

And so today, I have decided to stop asking for the things I dream. Because no matter what I do, I cannot find his love. I believe I must not deserve it, or am not meant for it, or God just doesn't want me to feel it and so I will stop asking.

I can't focus this day on my job, my role as a mother. Though my children are literally on top of me, I am far away and distracted, and the mom-guilt rises in my chest. I don't want to be thinking only about me and my dreams and hopes and righteousness and what I deserve and what I don't. The tears spring into my eyes again as I recognize my pride and selfishness and my toddler notices. He stops his plane in mid-air and says, "Momma cry. Momma sad," and touches my cheek with his chubby, dimpled hand.

***

Have you been there? Have you wondered where God is? Have you wondered if He is truly FOR you? If you are good enough for Him to love you, bless you and give you good things? Or do you feel passed over? Overlooked? Unremembered?

Maybe it's that you're lonely and need friends.
Maybe it's chronic sickness in the family.
Maybe it's an extra needy child.
Maybe it's your marriage.
Maybe it's a big move you're not ready for.
Maybe it's that breastfeeding isn't going how you'd hope.
Maybe it's a job, or the need of one.
Maybe it's a broken friendship.
Maybe it's a pregnancy that hasn't happened yet, or one that has ended in loss.
Maybe it's that you can't lose those last 10 pounds.
Maybe it's a combination of the above and more.
Or maybe it's just a tough day, week, month, year.

Is it affecting your mothering? Your ability to be present with your children? Your daily joy? Your ability to love and be loved?

***

A few months pass and my perspective shifts. It's not perfect, it's not finished; I am always a work in progress. Nothing has really changed in terms of my dreams and which ones he has chosen to make or not make a reality. But I know more now. I know the fault is mine for coming to God and asking for only what he can give me, believing deep down it was what He owed me.

A few months ago, all I cared about were my needs, desires, hopes and dreams. I was disappointed with God and questioning his goodness. I didn't believe that he was for me, because I didn't remember that he chose me. I wasn't trusting him to love and be good to me, because I was only looking at what I loved and my own goodness. I had been collecting my righteousness like pennies in a wishing well, just waiting for God to make one of them true - when that's not the way it works.

The thing is mommas, we're supposed to be both the persistent widow knocking on the door at midnight while also trusting Him to care for us like the sparrow in the field. There are seasons to ask, and there are seasons to receive.  But it's not about what we ask for and what we don't. It's about what we're looking at, what we care about, what we're concerned for, what our heart says.

I was missing the point, ignoring the cross. I had forgotten the manna in the jar that never spoiled and only looked to the ones I hoarded overnight that turned to worms. I was so caught up in wanting to feel proof of his love that I had lost the wonder in the fact that He loves me at all and chose me first. As mothers, we spend our days pouring out, giving, giving, giving. Yet it's amazing how selfish we still are at the core. I was spending my days grumbling about my goodness instead of being grateful for His. I was disappointed in his decisions instead of delighting in the only decision that mattered, the decision I never deserved - the cross.

I've been wobbling these past few months, teetering between truth and lies. But today my heart is humbled by the cross. Remembering and believing truth.

Mommas, when our vision is corrected, when our blind becomes sight, we will know. He lavishes grace upon grace on us daily. He is our deepest joy. Our greatest victory. He is for us and never against us. We have not been forgotten or overlooked - we are remembered and looked upon. The thing is, we just need to take the time to learn to draw our eyes off ourselves and onto him. To stop searching the floors for crumbs of our own righteousness and instead raise our sight to the table with the feast of Righteousness Glorified.

This is all you need to know for today. You don't need to know the plans for tomorrow or the why of yesterday. All you need to know is that it is not about you, it is about Him. That His ways are not your ways, and it is good that way.

He is good in that way.

He is the blessing, he is the gift. He sings over you. He delights in you. He treasures you. He rejoices in you. He loves you in more ways than you will ever see. Once we stop concerning ourselves with feeling loved and instead focus on being consumed with loving Him and giving him our lives - only then will we see and feel the greatness of the love and blessing he has already given.

Open your ears and hear the sweet sound of amazing grace, step down and feel the solid rock on which you stand, look up and survey the wondrous cross. Take back your days as a mother. Be present with your children because you can trust that everything is being taken care of. Believe you have worth and value and that You. Are. Loved.

Although not everything is what you want, everything is as it should be. Stop fighting and let him be first in your heart. Believe what you know and know what you believe - because it changes everything. 

He is full of goodness. He is a good God. He is good to us. He is good to you, momma.

Let's Learn To Play Again

"Com'on momma, righ' now. Hold hands. Over here, look outside - SQUIRRRRRREL!"

I hear something to this affect at least five times a day from my toddler. He loves having me walk with him to various windows around the house looking for squirrels and pointing out imaginary rhinos, doggies, giraffes and penguins. While it's adorable the first time each day, by the eighth time, I'm growing tired of stopping what I'm doing to look at a lame view out a window and struggling to muster up feigned excitement over annoying animals that like to eat our trash.

I think one of the more challenging things for me as a mom is that I struggle to be motivated to engage in authentic play with my children. I'm Type-A by nature and it seems every time I get down on the floor to play diggers with my son in his room, all I can see is the closet that needs reorganized, the crib that needs dusted (Like seriously, have you looked at all the stuff that collects between the slats?) and the nail holes in the wall that need refilled and painted. I'll half-heartedly drive the bulldozer around, jumping into action when the toddler commands, but secretly picking lint off the blanket when he's not looking - I'm so bored to tears.

It's not that I don't value play or think it's not important. I know it is incredibly valuable to for children in developing imagination, social skills, empathy, problem solving and more. And my personality actually does lend itself to organizing and creating fun things. For better or worse, I am the mom that actually attempts all (well, some of) the kid activities I pin on Pinterest - and I love researching and finding fun and stimulating activities for my kids outside the house so they can experience and participate in new things.

It's just that I'm not all that great at being a participant. For some reason, every time I agree to drive a train on the track with my son, my eyes start to twitch and my brain wanders over to my to-do list within 10 minutes. And over these past few months, with so much many plates spinning in the air, I've found myself brushing Eli off for the big, important Mommy Jobs, and not being as intentional with Colette as I should be - and now that things are slowing down, I'm struggling to find the motivation to truly be present while we play.

But the thing is, I don't want to be the mom of just a quick glance, a short distraction, the I Have Better Things To Do. My children and their interests are The BEST Things I Can Do. I want to be a mom that is present and involved. A mom that gives her children the gift of her time and energy. A mom that plays. A mom that enters their world and helps to make it bigger, better - even though my natural inclination is to inspect their world, offer a few tips and leave it to them to execute my suggestions.

So as hard as it is for me, I'm recommitting to playing with my children. To letting Eli ride me like a horsey far longer than my lazybones want to be. To spending intentional time tickling and overly pageant-smiling at Colette, all in hopes in getting one back from her. To eating 16 slices of fake apples and helping Rex the "di-no-noar" eat 16 more; as Eli instructs and Colette's bobble-head watches in fascination.

I want to be present with my children. Not just creating and facilitating play, but entering into their world and engaging with their imagination. It's not that I feel I need to become a Play! All! The! Time! kinda mom, I'm still a HUGE fan of independent play, but I'm working on finding a balance and beginning to look at playing with my kids as an effective use of my time - an investment - rather than an inconvenience. I don't know about you, but when I see something as having a purpose, a longer term goal, I'm much more apt to make it a priority in my day.

My babies won't be this little for long and I know eventually I'll be begging them to talk to me, spend time with me, and let me know more about their world. They won't remember the days when I was their world - when they were the ones begging me to race their cars around or act like an elephant. But I do hope they'll remember I was there. That I was present. That I was fun.

And, that I played with them.

How about you? Is it hard for you to be an active participant in playing with your children? Or does it come easily to you? Any tips or tricks?

Worth Sharing (& A Giveaway!)


Okay, the fun news first! See that mug up there, right next to Colette? The one that's reminding me of my morning mantra when both kids are up and at 'em at 6:45 a.m. and I'm struggling to see straight? Well, I'm partnering up with the fabulous shop, Sweet Water Decor to give one away to all of YOU over on the Oakland Avenue Facebook page to celebrate 1,000 likes! To thank all of you for your awesome support, one winner can pick any mug from Sweet Water Decor they'd like - and they have an awesome selection you all need to check out. All you need to do to enter is be sure you "Like" the OA page, and you can "Like" the Sweet Water Decor FB page for an extra entry. Then, just "Like" the "1K GIVEAWAY" post on the OA Facebook page for an official entry. *Just a quick heads up, I know there are many of you who regularly interact with the page (Which I LOVE, thank you!) but you don't actually "Like" the page - be sure that button is BLUE so you're eligible to win.

Okay, on to the regularly scheduled Worth Sharing: 


In defense of roughhousing. Roughhousing "'makes kids smart, emotionally intelligent, lovable and likable, ethical, physically fit and joyful.' In short, roughhousing makes your kids awesome." Yep, with Mike in the house, our kids are going to be verrrry well developed.


A very hot topic lately, and one that I'm somewhat torn on. I think logically I want to be the "free-range parent," but when it comes right down to it, my emotional, protective momma-bear side says NO WAY. Although I will admit it's gone too far. The Case for Free Range Parenting. 

Target. I love you. A great round up of Target picks by one of my favorite designers. (And if you like design at all, even a teeny-tiny-little-itty-bitty-bit you should be following her blog. She's a momma too!)

A sweet DIY toddler art piece. Definitely want to try this with Eli and Colette in the new house!

Oh my word. If you have an iPhone, READ and feel identified with.  24 Pictures That Are Way Too Real for People with iPhones.

Genius Ikea wall light hack. Probably doing this in the new house too. 

Clean up your life. Just do it. How To Opt Out Of Everything.

Okay, now go over and make sure you're entered to win a mug of your choice from Sweet Water Decor. I'll be randomly selecting the winner and announcing it over on Facebook on Friday, April 10. Good luck!

Colette - Three Month Update

Naps: Two to three naps a day. One, two hour in the morning; one two to three hour in the afternoon and a short 1/2 hour in the evening.
Feeding: Exclusively breastfeeding. Typically nurses seven times in 24 hour period. 
Clothing: Three month bottoms, three and six month tops.
Bedtime: 6:30 - 7 p.m.

Colic/Reflux Update: (I just want to start here since I know many of you have been curious how Colette is doing, how the medication is working, and if it's true what they say about outgrowing colic around three months.) As I mentioned in this post, Colette is completely unrecognizable as the same baby we had four weeks ago. As I look back over the past month so much has changed. At the time, we were still living in Minneapolis, and Colette was running a nursing/sleeping strike from about 4 p.m. - Midnight every. single. night. We upped her medication to 1ml of Ranitidine, every 8 hours and I truly think that made a large difference. My pediatrician explained that we were likely missing the evening "window" by only giving it to her twice a day, so now she receives it right after a feed, at 7 a.m., 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. It's not exactly 8 hours between each dose but it's close enough, lets Mike and I get a bit more rest, and most important, Colette seems to be happy and comfortable on this timetable. 

In addition, I do think she has outgrown the colic. It was sorta an overnight change, or rather maybe a two week change? We got her on the medication about four weeks ago and saw a big change in at least her being willing to eat in the evening - specifically from the bottle. Then about two weeks ago we started realizing that she wasn't crying as often or for as long of periods of time. She'd have a few nights here or there and maybe cry for an hour or two, if that, and then fall asleep, and she started being willing to nurse in the evening. And today, as I'll explain below. She rarely cries, if at all. It's amazing.

To those of you in the thick of colic and reflux, I have so much compassion and empathy for you, there truly is nothing, nothing that can prepare you for it. I know first hand how discouraging, difficult and downright depressing it is to not be able to calm your child. I'd like to write more on this topic at some point, but it's still all a little too fresh for me and I'm still processing, but I know I'm thinking of all of you going through it and if you need a friend in it all, I'd love to talk with you via email and encourage you!

Eating/Sleeping:  Now that Colette is a little more like a "textbook" baby, and our lives have slowed down a bit, I've finally started actually being intentional with a schedule - and the first order of business was to figure out how to get her and Eli napping together, so I had at least a small break in the day. To get there I started feeding Colette every two hours in the morning, and every three in the afternoon, so our day looks like this: 

7 a.m. Start the day, nurse and medication (Even if I have to wake her.)
9 a.m. Nurse and nap
11 a.m. Wake and nurse 
1 p.m. Nurse and nap (CROSSING OVER WITH ELI'S NAP!!)
4 p.m. Wake, nurse and medication (Although she almost always wakes on her own for this one.)
5 or 5:30 p.m. Short cat nap for about a 1/2 hour
6:30 p.m. Nurse and bed. While I'd like this to be a bit later, like 7 or even 8 p.m. for the summer, she's simply too tired to make it much past 6:30 p.m. even with a nap.
10 p.m. Wake for dream feed and medication, straight back to bed

For night feedings, she typically wakes around 4 or 5 a.m., then sleeps until 7 a.m., and I often have to wake her up! I seriously feel like a champion every day getting this much sleep! For all her naps and bedtime, Colette goes down super easily, although we have had some struggles with the 45 minute intruder - she's seriously like a clock. Forty five minutes after she falls asleep, she's up crying. Typically all we need to do is throw the pacifier in and she'll go back to sleep, or there have also been times I've needed to nurse her to calm her down and then she goes right back down. 

Up until about a week ago she was in the rock n'play (LOVE that thing), but I wanted to wean her of it before she started rolling, so we went cold turkey into having her sleep in a small travel bassinet we brought with us and she did great with the transition. I can lay her in her bassinet awake and she'll drift off all on her own. 

Typing all that out, it's just crazy to read that she actually has a schedule and to see how much sleep she and I are BOTH getting, even with her just giving me a six hour stretch, I'll take it!
Development: 
The BELLY LAUGHS. Oh man, I don't remember it starting this early with Eli, but this girl has THE BEST belly laugh. She gets in these moods right after a feed where she'll just giggle forever - she especially likes being tickled on her ribs and under her chin, but she'll even give you giggles if you just look at her with a big smile. She's constantly giggling at Eli, usually he's just tripping over himself trying to give her something, her sock, headband or a giant digger that will crush her when he drops it on her face to "share" and she thinks it's so funny. Usually Eli just says to me, "Mommy, Colette cry." And I have to let him know that, no that's not a cry, that's a laugh! We love laughing! Yay! Laughing and NOT crying! 

She's still doing lots of cooing and squealing and she loves to talk, especially if someone talks to her - just like her momma. She hasn't rolled yet, but is definitely giving it the old college try. She tends to either just lay there looking around, or get angry and try to roll over, but just can't quite make it yet. She's doing awesome holding her head up, but still needs quite a bit of support. She's also discovered her hands this month and has started grabbing at things on her play mat, I love watching her down there!

Likes/Dislikes:
Still a HUGE fan of the bath and having her hair washed, so that's still on the agenda a few times a week to keep her curly hair looking its best. She also just loves laying next to us on the bed or being up in her bouncer watching everything that's going on. She still loves the carseat and it doesn't matter if she just woke up from a nap, you put her in it with a pacifier and the cover over it and that girl is out like a light. It's nice, but it also tends to get her off schedule quite a bit when I'm out doing errands. She can still be a little finicky about her surroundings, liking everything "just so." Things like, she won't take a bottle unless it's super warm and doesn't like having a dirty diaper - but she's easy to read so it's not a problem. She really only cries if there's something off, which is so nice! 

Momma/Daddy Update:
We're doing SO much better. Having the bulk of the move to Chicago behind us has taken a load off both of us, helping us to focus on the kids and give them the attention they deserve. Also, SLEEP IS A GAME CHANGER. Now that we're getting consistent sleep, Mike and I both have more positive attitudes throughout the day. I'm finding it so interesting how different of a parent I am with Colette than I was with Eli. Of course, in the big things, I'm exactly the same, but the smaller less important things, I've been forced to let go of a lot because of the situation we were in the past few months. Things like a consistent schedule, getting her to sleep 12 hours a night straight, nursing on demand, co-sleeping, etc. Eli slept through the night at 13 weeks and we worked pretty hard for about two months to get him there. With Colette, I haven't done ANYTHING until about a week or two ago. Technically she wakes up twice a night, but I don't even care and have no plans to really work on eliminating them. Of course, I'd love to kick that 4 a.m. wake up, but honestly, I'm just so happy with how far we've come, I don't even want to worry about it that much! We do find ourselves comparing the kids a lot, not in a bad way, but just like, "Do you remember Eli doing this?" or "Eli would have never done that!" More just observations and realizing just how different each kid is, even from birth. 

We just love being parents to a little girl, it's so fun to watch Mike interact with her and see him be so much more gentle and delicate with her than he ever was with Eli. And I talk to Colette about "a pedi and a latte" all the time. I can't wait until she's big enough to take on mommy/daughter dates!

A Toddler & A Baby: Best Friends Forever

So we all have those things we said we'd never do before we had kids, right? The things we never should have said, or even pretended like we knew what we were talking about AT ALL - because: YOU HAD NO KIDS.

And then you had your first kid, and you ended up eating at least 80 percent of those words - at least.

But then there's that last 20 percent left over. The things you said you'd never do, and you actually didn't do them. You held tight to your convictions and stood strong when you said you'd never give your kid a cookie, or gluten or sugar or whatever; that you'd never co-sleep; or that you'd never introduce the pacifier before 5 weeks, and even then only in the most dire of circumstances.

You're all like, "Look at me, look at me! Being a mom isn't that hard! My kid was sugar-free for the first year of his life!"

But then, oh ho hum, baby number two graces you with their presence and wham, bam, that 20 percent that holds all your pride as a parent?

Gone like the wind.

Sugar? Sure, you're only five months old and haven't had any solids yet, but I see you drooling at the sight of the ice cream in your big brother's hand. Here, have a taste baby. Good, isn't it?

Co-sleeping? Heck yes. You are soft and warm and I am tired. Why wouldn't I do this? Plus I can't have baby making a peep and risk waking the toddler-dragon in the next room.

Pacifier? ALL DAY, EVERY DAY IS A DIRE CIRCUMSTANCE. Nurse, baby is five hours old, I need that pacifier, STAT.

Life with a baby and a toddler is like being a Stretch Armstrong doll in the hands of two six year olds. Because as much as you want to be, you CANNOT BE ALL THINGS TO ALL TINY PEOPLE.

Your baby cries for food, let's see, about 17.5 billion times a day. I think that's pretty accurate. And your toddler does too, they've just managed to turn that cry into a whine, mixed with a few words, like chips and cheese and raisins and cheerios. Why can't they ever ask for veggies? Like, just once, ask for broccoli and I would give it to him in a heartbeat!!

All your time and attention is split. It can be easy to ignore the baby, because the baby can't cling to your leg and force you to drag all 32 pounds of them as you try to prepare dinner, or do laundry, or go to the bathroom. But you don't want to give your baby the shaft just because they happened to be second in the birth order, so you spend your days trying to involve them and the toddler in everything you do; camped out by baby's bouncer, racing cars around her head along with your toddler, or trying to teach your toddler to tickle the baby - gently, NO, NOT THE EYES AGAIN!

It never really works.

You try to leave the house at least once a day, but usually it just ends with a huge meltdown. Maybe it's the toddler because you brought his blue car and not his orange car. Or the baby wakes early from their nap and is crying and rooting around for food when you just fed them an hour ago. Or maybe it's you because you can't for the life of you figure out how to fit all the groceries you need in a shopping cart that's filled with a carseat and a toddler. LIKE, SOMEONE ON SHARK TANK JUST INVENT A NEW SHOPPING CART - I GOT MONEY TO SPEND.

You're working on implementing a schedule, but it's pretty much impossible with a newborn that thinks day is night and night is day, and a toddler that thinks it's The Best Game Ever to hear how loud his voice can get when a room is dark and quiet and warm and preferably a baby is sleeping in it.

Your day pretty much looks like this: Get up and feed the baby. Feed the toddler. Get the baby down for a nap, feed the toddler, feed the baby, nap the baby, feed the toddler, feed the baby. Baby down for a nap. And FINALLY ... Toddler down for a nap.

You feel real good about yourself at this point, the only sound you hear is the buzz of two sound machines. You've made it through over half the day without dad. And I mean, you kept two babies alive until Double Nap Time! You're more inspirational than Oprah! More of a fighter than Katniss Everdeen! More brilliant than Hermione Granger!

You run and brush your teeth for the first time that day, put your hair into a more presentable top knot and unload the dishwasher.

15 minutes later ...

The baby's awake.

25 more minutes later ...

The toddler's awake.

All hope is lost.

WHEN WILL DAD BE HOME?

It's hard to have a baby and a toddler. You're up, you're down, you're needed here, there and everywhere. It can feel like you're just a plain hot mess all day and you can't keep anyone happy for more than 10 minutes.

But then.

Oh, but then.

Out of the corner of your eye, while you're picking the pb&j up off the floor for for a little mid-afternoon snack for yourself, you see it.

Your toddler reaches out to hold your baby's hand and says, "Sister!" And then he leans down and kisses that little newborn head.

You melt into a puddle on the floor right next to that pb&j. Everything that was ever hard or frustrating of difficult from the day fades away until you have no more memory of it and that moment of love is all you can remember.

And then you start to notice more things:

Your toddler attempting to share their toys with the baby, their "friend."

Your baby smiling as the toddler shows them their stuffed monkey.

Your toddler reminding you that, "Baby comes too?" as you're packing up the car.

Your baby giggling when the toddler trips over his own feet.

Your toddler requesting baby sits, "Righ' here," as he points to the spot right next to him on the couch.

Your baby lighting up and cooing every time the toddler passes in front of their blurry, terrible vision.

Your toddler asking to hold baby and as they do, they couldn't look more proud even though the baby is slumped in their lap with their neck cranked at what seems to be an impossible, and definitely uncomfortable angle. The toddler is putting absolutely no effort into it or providing any support, but still. They are willingly, happily holding the baby.

And each time this happens, you, you become a mess of sappy, nostalgic tenderness over the love they show each other that ---- can't even.

It lasts for just a moment and quickly it passes, morphing into diapers and crumbs and needs and needs and needs.

There are so many moments with a toddler and a baby when you just want to throw in the towel, wave the white flag and say, I can't fix this. I can't make you both happy. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. It can be so overwhelming when both kids are crying, the house looks like a primary-colored bomb went off in it and you just want a moment of peace.

But then there are those other, bright, promising moments when you see the magic. When time stops and in that moment you are so thankful for two kids that love each other. Needy kids that love each other, yes. But what matters is they love each other.

In those moments you know, you just know it's going to be awesome to watch them grow up together. You pray they'll always remember and keep this connection, this blood bond. You imagine them playing together a year from now, getting on the bus for school together in a few more years, and driving to get ice cream after a game in high school. You see them tease each other through college, stand and dance in each other's weddings and hold each other's babies.

This having your kids close together in age thing, it's good. It's worth it. And if you work it right, encourage it and pray them through it, hopefully, just hopefully they'll end up just as good of friends as they started out under your watch, as a toddler and a baby.

It can be easy to feel alone in this. That you are the only one overwhelmed and strung out. That you are the only one that is counting down the minutes until dad gets home and even then you just can't quite wind down.

But remember, we're together in this. All the moms, no matter the number or spread of their kids, we're all fighting for the same thing: A family that loves each other, sticks together and has each other's backs. And this dirty-trench work we're doing, it's worth it for the long haul. This is just the beginning. They will become less needy in time. But right now, the need is good. The need is working itself out. The need is building a foundation for that very thing we're fighting for.

So stick those magic-moments in your back pocket and remember what they say, the days are long but the years are short. Even just two years into this parenting gig I know they are right. That the day they grow up and leave my nest, I'll give anything to have them back in my arms as my chubby-cheeked toddler and my chubby-thighed baby. The very best I can hope and pray for is they leave it the same way they came into it, loving each other and calling the other their friend.

That, and maybe learning some manners and not asking for food quite so much.

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