We're all sitting on the bed in my three-year-old's room. She's sitting in my lap and I'm reading her a bedtime story. Meanwhile, the baby is grabbing my arm, pulling her sister's hair, trying to crawl in my lap...basically, doing whatever she can to get my attention. As I'm reading, I mentally calculate how many minutes it will take to finish the book versus how long it will be before the baby totally loses it. This is how it usually goes at bedtime.
As soon as my firstborn turned one, I started thinking about No. 2. I felt the nostalgia that many moms feel when their little ones begin to seem less like rosy-checked babies and more like headstrong toddlers—the "I-don't-have-a-baby-anymore!" syndrome.
Eventually, we started trying for another baby, and I was knocked up in about five minutes. Perfect! Everything was going according to plan. But when I was further down the pregnancy road, I started to feel anxious.
I worried that I wouldn't love my second child as much as I love my first. I worried that the new baby would take up all of my cherished time with my older child. And I worried about the life change that going from one child to two would entail.
The love one—well, that was just silly. I loved my second baby instantly, the moment I laid eyes on her. But the last two were legitimate concerns.
The problem with having two kids is that there's never enough time. Being close in age, they're in constant competition for my attention. They're both still very needy, and those needs often collide. I worry sometimes that I'm shortchanging one of them; that I'm not showering equal love and attention on them both.
This is how women drive themselves crazy: thinking they have to be all things to all of their children, all of the time. Some women voluntarily walk the path to martyrdom—"You don't know how to hold her!" "He'll only go to sleep if I rock him!"—but it's not for me.
My husband is perfectly capable of putting the baby to bed while I finish reading the book to my eldest. It doesn't mean that I love one of my children more than the other; it just means that my husband and I both have a role to play in parenting.
And whether I'm singing silly songs with my eldest or stroking my little one's back as she drifts off to sleep, I know they can feel it: how very much I love them. Both of them.