This post is being submitted to Brica as an entry in their contest to win a sponsorship to the Type A Parent Conference. Their motto is “Making Together Better” and it’s a lovely thought. They make products to help make parents’ lives easier. You can find them on Twitter or Facebook.
Of all the things I expected to happen with two kids, I certainly didn’t expect that it would make me a better parent.
I honestly thought I’d be worse. Maybe there’d be a learning curve where I’d eventually be a master at balancing and juggling and doing all kinds of things simultaneously. But I didn’t think being a good multitasker was the same thing as being a good parent.
I thought a good parent wouldn’t have to tell their child to wait while they burped the baby. And a good parent wouldn’t have to set a screaming baby down to fix a child’s lunch. It’s not bad parenting, but it didn’t seem like perfect parenting either.
Tessa has invaded many of my rituals with Graham and destroyed others. I have given up on bathing either of them on my own, and when Eric works late this can mean we lose bath time a lot. And, of course, there’s the sacred bedtime ritual where we read Graham’s favorite book and then I sing him a lullaby. Now that book is sometimes read while I bounce a shrieking Tesser on my knee. And that song is sometimes sung while I stand up holding Tessa instead of sitting on the bed stroking Graham’s hair.
But the funny thing is that I actually feel like I am a better parent. It’s just that being a good parent means something different than I thought it did.
I spend more time enjoying my children now that there are two of them. Tessa’s happy moods are spent on my lap where we smile and coo at each other. Graham’s requests to cuddle aren’t always granted, but I enjoy them a lot when they are.
Even though I can’t give either of them my undivided attention, when I pay attention to them I can give them the attention they deserve.
I’ve learned to stop seeing parenting as a big juggling act. My success isn’t judged on how often I get to take my son to the park or how many naps I can get my daughter to take. Quality over quantity is my new motto.
I’m learning a lot of patience, too. And so are my kids, whether they like it or not. One of the reasons I was so set on giving Graham a sibling is that I knew this was a child who needed to understand in a very big way that he wasn’t the only person around. To my surprise he’s adapted quickly and amazingly to his little sister. He lets me have time to feed her or burp her or bounce her when I need to, even if it means he waits for his lunch. It’s an awful lot of kindness towards a baby who can’t really interact much yet.
But we are starting to see the first signs of sibling togetherness.
Now that Tessa has taken an interest in the little hanging toys above her napper, Graham will happily play with her.
Making together better for us is about learning to give to each other, to wait for each other and to enjoy each other. And I’m feeling pretty good about it.