Next week my little Noah will be six months old! Almost a grown up. We had a really hard adjustment period initially. Noah was up a lot of the night because he was very gassy. Ethan decided after Noah was born to start night waking again and to stop taking naps. I was extremely tired. Some days I might have only gotten two hours sleep. Ethan threw a lot of tantrums. He tried to hit the baby. Any time I would feed Noah, or Noah would wake up from a nap Ethan was not a happy camper and the tantrums would start. I remember when Noah was six weeks old Ethan stopped screaming when I would get up from the dinner table to feed Noah. He had gotten used to the fact that things had changed and that meant I wouldn't always sit down with him while he ate. He was used to Noah being around. By the time Noah was four months old Ethan seemed like he was starting to like Noah. He was helping me on a regular basis with diapers or finding Noah's clothes, making sure Noah was in his carseat and his toy was properly positioned. By the time Noah was 5 months he started calling him, "Oah." This past month he has started playing with him. He plays peek-a-boo, gives him toys, tries to shove the pacifier in his mouth, rubs his head when he passes by. He stopped throwing tantrums constantly when I realized the main source of the tantrum throwing. Life for the most part, is really good now.
But there were dark days. Very dark days. When I was tired, and Ethan was tantrumy, and Noah was gassy and Nathan was nowhere close to coming home for the day I really didn't think I could do this. This mothering two kids thing. A friend suggested I do Mom's Morning Out. It is a program at local churches that let you drop your 18-24month old off for a couple of hours one morning a week. This would give me a chance to take a nap with the baby. Sounded good. Really good. My husband informed me that there wasn't room in the budget for something like that. I was like, "Oh, yeah? I'll find it!" I really didn't think my sanity could take my life as it was. I looked at the budget. He was right. No matter what I tried to shave off, the money just wasn't there. There were times when I thought Ethan seemed so unhappy I wondered if he would be better off in a daycare like setting. Would he be better off somewhere else? With anyone else but me? He always seemed so much happier when there was someone other than me around. When we were alone together the monster child would come out. I knew it was because he was jealous and he wanted all of my attention. I tried to give him as much as I could, but it never seemed to be enough. He was never happy. I wondered if it would be less hard on him if he were in a different setting. It didn't matter because we didn't have the money, but I had moments of doubt if at home with me was really the best place for him.
I am glad we didn't have the money. It forced me to learn some really important things. I learned how to be more patient when I felt stretched to my absolute limit. I don't do it perfectly every time, but more often than I used to, I take a deep breath and repeat my mantra: He is only two. He is only two. He is the baby you prayed for. He is precious. He is only two. Then I try to make my next words to him kind (even if he needs to be punished) and sensitive to his feelings. Usually, the root of Ethan's problem is he is feeling unloved at the moment in time he is throwing a tantrum. He is feeling frustrated that I will not give him what he wants. The biggest change in his behavior came when I changed mine. I started looking him in the eyes when he would tell me something. I started touching his back and rubbing it when he was starting to get worked up while I was breastfeeding and trying to give him the words to help him express himself. I started making a point to sit down with him several times a day to snuggle, read books, and tickle him. Once I started learning how to love him better he didn't seem to need to fight so hard with me to get my attention. He started liking Noah more.
I don't think I could have learned how to love Ethan better, and how to balance having two babies if I had sent Ethan to someone else to take care of. I don't think Ethan would know beyond a doubt that I love him so very much. I think he gets it now. Because I get it.