The other night I was up particularly late nursing the baby. Usually, I have a no-phone rule for myself during late night feedings because I have a hard time falling asleep again. However, on this night I hadn’t yet been to sleep, so I was scrolling my own Instagram feed, taking inventory of how adorable and funny my children were with the hopes of redeeming them in my mind. It had been a particularly rough day, and they were sorely in need of redemption. We all were, actually. They screamed too loud and fought too much. My daughter hit my son in the head with a dump truck, so he bit her on the shoulder. I yelled at both of them, and we all went to timeout. My son had a 45-minute screaming tantrum in his room because I don’t even know? His shoes were blue, and it was Thursday or some other such nonsense? My daughter threw all of her silverware on the floor at dinner and fed her chicken to the dog. The baby cried, as babies do, and we were out of wine.
I needed to see silly pictures. Joyful pictures. I needed to re-live a happy day to make up for the hard one in hopes that we could have a much better day tomorrow.
But as I scrolled through goofy hat photos and Halloween costume poses, I caught myself wishing I had my old life back. Not my pre-kid life—that I can barely remember—but my two-kid life. We had a seemingly blissful existence five weeks ago before another baby threw everything into upheaval, and I lost sight of normal.
As much as I like to act like I’m spontaneous and fun, I really like to know exactly what to expect, and I prefer for my day-to-day life to be fairly predictable, even if that means predictably chaotic. I think change is hard and transition is draining. I would argue that most people probably feel this way. Are there people who love change? Is there someone out there who says, "I love transition! Transition is my favorite"? If there are, I would like to meet them. Maybe those people should teach a class. Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that big life transitions are difficult and stressful. Adding another child falls squarely into this category.
Because I’m a grown up, and also the mom, it’s not appropriate for me to throw myself on the floor or chuck trucks at people or toss my fork across the dinner table, but in that brief moment of looking at my phone and wishing for the old "normal," I felt a lot of sympathy for my kids.
Having a new baby was a change that we could anticipate—we had nine whole months to get ready—and my husband and I are still working it out. My kids had no idea how to prepare. I could only talk about "when the baby comes" so much, and it's still such a vague concept for their little minds. In fact, I didn't really know what to expect entirely, and I've done this twice before.
My kids basically don't know anything: it's not fair for me to expect them to take this in stride. I just added a whole new person to the family and since the doctor had to cut me in half during the process, I can't bring my ‘A’ game for several more weeks. One new sister minus one full mommy plus two toddlers equals meltdowns. Understandably.
And it’s not just the new baby, it’s new everything: grandparents in town for a month, new seat configuration in the van, new schedules, new focuses, new shared attention. We're all wondering what is permanent and what is temporary.
These little people don't have the luxury of scrolling Instagram and articulating their emotions in essay form. Their methods are much more rudimentary. But in those moments of screaming meltdowns because I turned the pajama bottoms right side out and won't refill a full juice cup, I can try to remember how I felt looking at my phone that night: confused, tired, a little sad, and longing for routine.
Our new normal is right around the corner, and I know it's going to be just as good as the old normal, if not better. It will totally be worth the wait. We just have to survive the meantime.