The Sideline Mom

It has been almost exactly one year since I’ve updated the blog. Don’t worry, most of that time hasn’t been a total waste (watching the Real Housewives only takes up about 30% of my life). I spent the year finishing up moving in to a new house, making new (and terrific) mom friends, getting acquainted with the local Chuck E. Cheese, and having another baby. 

That’s right, I am officially a mother of two. Two beautiful children. I’ve had almost every single person I know ask me what it’s like going from one baby to two and I usually blurt out “it’s great!” or “you know what, it isn’t that hard.” I’m lying. I lie a lot. It’s quite challenging. Okay, it’s not that complicated, but I wouldn’t say raising two kids is easy. Raising one child isn’t easy, let alone two. But once you find a new routine and you get back in to the groove of changing thirty diapers a day, or discovering how to move through life on only four hours of sleep, you start to find yourself again. Once you accept that your boobs will never look the same without medical intervention, or that by the time you’re a grandmother it means that you’ll have lived with stretch marks for most of your life, the heaviness of raising two kids gets a bit lighter. 

However, most of the time when people ask me “how’s life with two going?,” it usually happens at a play date. I’m always holding Max, my wonderful newborn baby boy, and I tell them it’s great and life is blissful and having a boy is so incredible it could bring you to tears. Then, I turn my back to them so they can see Max’s little face and his tiny hands (which permanently live against my left shoulder) and while they coo at him and talk about how cute his cheeks are, I’m usually eyeballing Sofia, my now three-and-a-half year old. As I look at her playing gleefully with her friends, my heart silently breaks for just a moment. Not because she’s growing up and having fun and gaining some independence from me, but due to the fact that instead of being the mom that watched her child from the other side of the park, bouncing a sibling on her hip, I used to be the mom that was out on the playground with her kid. After a break in our “mom conversations” I could get up and slide down the slide with my daughter, or swing on the swings with her and talk about toddler things while the wind blew in our faces. After we left the park, we could stop off at a place to eat to get some lunch together, or go for a walk in our neighborhood hand in hand, stopping occasionally for her to pick dandelions out from the cracks in our neighbors sidewalks. And while I have phenomenal girlfriends who want to hold Max for a little while so I can have a small break or quickly go down the slide a few times with Sof before her brother needs a boob in his mouth, these moments are few and far between. Currently, as I type this, Max is sleeping on my chest while his sister plays quietly by herself, waiting for him to wake up and sit calmly in his bouncy seat long enough for her and I to bake a cake together, which I have promised her we could do for the past three days. 

What I’m trying to say is that I have become the sideline mom. Instead of being the parent that is in the middle of the action, putting 100% of their attention on to their child and being present in the moment – in their moment – my attention is now split between children. Sometimes the attention is 50/50, sometimes it’s 60/40, occasionally it’s 90/10, but the point is that the attention is forever split for the time being. Sofia’s growing up (far too rapidly), as is Max, and as they grow, things will start to get easier. Sofia will begin school in a few months, which means I will have uninterrupted “Max time” and as Max gets bigger, he’ll go longer without feedings, which means Sofia and I can go out shopping or have a mother/daughter date at a frozen yogurt place, just to two of us. And I know that once they’re both older, two grown human beings, they’ll love having one another in each other’s lives. To have someone who shares the same familiarities with Jarred and I as parents with each other will make their teenage lives all the more easy (I’m sure they’ll complain about us to each other on multiple occasions, probably whining about how cool we are). And forever having a friend around, always at arms reach, means that they’ll never be bored, and hopefully never feel lonely. 

But for now, no matter how short of time this is, I am on the sideline. Watching from a distance, waving the arm that isn’t holding a baby in the air or occasionally yelling her name so she knows that I’m watching her, that I’m trying to be as present with her as I possibly can be. Whispering to her from the couch, that I love her and that I promise we’ll do something as soon as Max wakes up from his 90th nap. Reaching behind me in the car to rub her foot so she knows I’m thinking of her. 

To those of you reading, I want to express how much I am in love with being a mother of two, and how grateful I am that Jarred and I were able to welcome another baby in to our family. Max is hands down the most amazing boy I’ve ever met in my entire life, and from the moment I heard his soft cry from behind the curtain in the operating room, I couldn’t imagine life without him. I want to hold this precious boy and never let him go. But, with that being said, having another child is also immensely difficult to find the balance you once had with your first born. Her life has been forever changed, and she didn’t even get a say so about it. My role in Sofia’s life has stayed the same, and my love for her has only grown, but my presence has certainly been altered. She’s forced to do things by herself that she once always did with me. She’s forced to spend most of her bath time by herself because Max needs to be put down for a nap. She’s forced to sleep in her own bedroom because four of us piled in to a bed is oftentimes too overwhelming for her little brother to sleep in. She’s made to sit with one of the leaders at playgroup during song time, because Mom is holding Max, who is fast asleep against her chest. She’s forced to share her parents, the one thing in her life she’s never had to share before. And she’s forced to have a mom who is currently on the sideline, being in awe of her from afar. 

This life on the side isn’t all encompassing, and it doesn’t happen during our entire day. But even the short few minutes that it does happen can break a mothers heart. I’m blessed to have a daughter who understands, to some degree, that her little brother just needs a little help more often than she does. I oftentimes find myself holding her beautiful face in my hands and telling her how much I love her and appreciate her, and how grateful Max will one day be for having her as a big sister. And in those moments, when we’re locked eye to eye, and I’m apologizing to her for forever changing her life, it hits me like a ton of bricks – being this temporary sideline mom has made me cherish and appreciate my child more than I ever thought I could. I get to watch my child grow in a way that I never thought possible. She’s only three years old, but the love she has for her brother is already unconditional. Instead of occasionally getting irritated with her for being too loud around her sleeping brother, I should be on the sideline cheering her on for playing so independently. Instead of worrying if she’s sharing or being polite to the kids around her, I should be on the sideline with a huge smile, watching her enjoy herself and be a child. Instead of crying over the fact that she’ll be starting school soon and stressing if she’s going to be upset that I get alone time with Max and not her, I should be on the sideline holding Max, and praising her for growing up and becoming this gorgeous, smart girl that I always knew she’d become. And I’ll probably be on the sideline of her classroom, peering in through the window like a creepy peeping Tom, unable to drive away from her school because I’m sobbing at how proud I am of her (and because I refuse to fully cut the cord).

Having another child was one of the greatest decisions my husband and I ever made. And being a sideline mom to Sofia isn’t going to last forever. It actually won’t last much longer at all. But instead of constantly beating myself up over it and feeling shamed about being a bad mom, I’m going to find a way to enjoy this small window of time just watching my daughter blossom into the beautiful girl that she is. A beautiful girl who may have conned me into letting her eat a piece of chocolate cake at 12 in the afternoon, but a beautiful girl nonetheless. 

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