Life With 2 Kids

There’s a reason it’s taken me 10 weeks to write this post. When Carter was a newborn I was oh-so-smug about churning out blog posts like confetti. It’s been a whole different ball game this time around. I took a whopping 29 days off before I went back to photography, shooting an 11 hour wedding when she was less than a month old. Not earning a full salary on maternity leaves means maternity leave is less cuddle and more hustle, and to be honest I.Am.Exhausted. I’m also dreading 1 July when I leave my awesome edit-from-home-in-slippers vibe and head back to my corporate job. I hope the dress code allows for fat pants and maternity bras.

So, busy-ness aside, what is it like to have a second child?

  1. It’s busy. I think I kinda alluded to that earlier, but it is. It’s amazing – I roll my eyes into my brain when twenty-something people moan about how constantly exhausted they are, because I had one kid and realised what the term ‘busy’ really meant. Well, moms of two or more, I totally get how you must have rolled your eyes at us moms of one. The first few days were so easy that I had another moment of (very short lived) smugness. Husband was on paternity leave (ya, let’s discuss that flash in a pan allowance hey government?) and that mean I could totally enjoy the snuggles and chill out time as I had a set of hands to help clean and cook and just chill with. The second he went back to work real life set in. Newborns, as teeny and tiny as they are, are are really very time consuming. From feeds to burps to nappy changes and everything in between. When they do sleep you are met with life altering decisions. Do I grocery shop, do I do some work, do I wash her clothes, do I clean bottles or do I blog? And then before you can even make a decision, the baby wakes up and all your plans for the day are long forgotten.
  2. It takes a toll on your marriage. Suddenly, two parents means one kid each which means zero down time. Our evenings are run with military precision as one spouse cleans kids while the other starts cooking. Bedtimes are managed with tears and screaming. Sometimes the kids also cry. A shit ton of wine is consumed and in between the grunts of ‘your turn‘ when the monitor goes off and downing carb laden easy food for meals, you barely have one ounce to even look at each other. We realised recently that we haven’t had a date, just the two of us, in over a year and a half. So yes, it’s safe to say that our marriage is basically in survival mode for the next few months while we try to keep two little people alive.
  3. The sibling will suffer. You can prep them until they are blue with boredom, but once that baby comes, someone is going to suffer. Carter adores his sister so much that my heart sometimes feels like it will explode with custard, and while this makes me smile sunbeams out my face, it also means that he’s taking ‘the change’ out on someone. And that someone is me. My kid, my crazy kind sweet beautiful boy has been a little dick to me since the day I fell pregnant. There are fleeting moments of adoration or hugs or loves, but I can tell you that 80% of the time I am his punching bag. And its Ok, because I know it wont last forever, but while it does, it’s still very hard. After a particularly stressful morning last week I sat, sobbing while googling ‘Aspergers in toddlers’ and telling my husband that we had to take him to a child psychologist. Thankfully, a hundred moms spoke me off my cliff and told me that acting out is totally normal, and no, I shouldn’t run to the adoption agency just yet. Little arseholes that they are though, these threenagers know just how to drive you to the brink of insanity before doing something totally adorable to remind you not to drop them off at the orphanage for the night.
  4. No one cares. First kids are exciting man, people wish you and praise you and come visit and bring food. Second time around, only your family really give two hoots. In a way it was quite nice not having 59 people in my hospital room at once, but in a way I’m pretty sad that Piper s arrival wasnt met with the same amount of joy as Carter was. I have friends who still haven’t even met her, and friends who haven’t even wished us congratulations. In a way its a good thing, as it’s reminded me who my real tribe are. I’m still sad no ones brought carbs food though.
  5. You will be more tired that you ever thought possible. I think, to allow conception of another baby, your body purposely forgets just how hard sleep deprivation is. I genuinely don’t remember it being so hard with #1. I am tired all the time, and my face looks like the before ad for botox. if one more person tells me how tired I look I might stab them in the face with a wine bottle.
  6. You are more flexible. With the realisation of this being your ‘last kid’ you change your approach somewhat. I hold her a bit longer and let her sleep me on me a bit more than I did Carter. I’m more flexible with her feeding and routine and I’m trying to enjoy and appreciate her as much as I can. She’s already nearly 2 and a half months and my heart is heavy at the thought of her growing up too fast.So, on that…
  7. It’s too fast. 10 weeks in and I’ve yet to go back to gym, update my blog, make photo books of their lives or clean out that draw that’s been collecting crap since 2016. Your day is broken up into 3 hour stretches during which 100 more important things need to be done. Working throughout has also added a new dimension to my ‘leave’ and every free minute I get is spent editing or shooting or invoicing or doing admin.
  8. It’s just as exciting. The novelty does not wear off the second time around. The first smile will melt your ovaries (I know, because mine are currently very much melted) and every milestone thereafter will be treated as if she were your first. Don’t think that this baby will be relegated to the backseat just because it’s not the first time. Each and every thing my Baby Piper does feels like the first time, because she is not her brother, she is her. She is different. She is unique. And every thing she ever does will be exciting because of that.
  9. It’s just how it should be. I never had those feelings of “how I’m I going to love another human as much as I do my first”. I always knew that I wanted two kids and always knew I had room in my heart for another. If anything, it’s taught me to love Carter even more (if that’s even possible). In a way I can’t wait to see who she grows into and what kind of person she’s going to be, but for the time being I am so content just sitting with her and touching her and breathing her all in (girls smell much nicer than boys, even when they’re babies).
  10. It is so, so worth it. So worth the weight gain, the breast-feeding hormones that make me fat, the lack of sleep, the mum dum, the stretch marks, the 10cm scar, the bags under my eyes and the exhausted skin, the tired eyes and the 8 pm bedtimes, the 2 am insomnia and the debt. It is so worth it, because I am so happy and so deeply in love with my two children. Motherhood may not be for everyone, but it’s one of the greatest achievements of my life.

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Toddlers Are Quite Lovely When They’re Your Own.

I was listening to an interview on a podcast this week, where the interviewer asked his guest if the good in children outweighed all the hard shit. I haven’t stopped thinking about this comment. Because, it is hard. Not ‘parallel parking hard’ but hard in that fact that everything – when you have a kid – always seems as if it takes that much longer. It’s mind boggling when I think about how one times 2 year old has completely thrown our lives out of sync, but for the better.

So, to answer your question, Mr DJ, yes, the good absolutely does outweigh the bad.

I feel like my last few blog posts have been somewhat negative. I’ve been writing a lot about the ‘busyness’ of it all. But I don’t often reflect on this little person and just how amazing he is.

I’ve never really liked other peoples toddlers. Babies are adorable, all peach fuzz hair and soft skin, but toddler? What’s there to love about some one else DNA with miles of snot dripping out of their nose, too long and always dirty fingernails, slogan t-shirts and irritating mannerisms. Call me harsh, but (and I’m a kid person) they’ve never really held appeal to me. When people share videos of their kids doing nauseatingly annoying things and then narrate it in baby talk “Tommy wikes wapples”, I could actually just vomit in my mouth. Except now I share all the videos of Carter (except, shoot me if I ever talk to him in nonsensical rhyming ridiculousness).  I used to think that when people told me ‘the best was yet to come’ it was to make themselves feel better, and I would look smugly at my sleeping infant and think never. Never could it get better than this.

But then he turned two and all the potty-training, new bed, will-he-ever-sleep-again drama came and went, and what emerged was this incredibly smart, conscientious, aware, loving, kind, wonderful little boy in my life, and I simply cannot get enough of him.

Motherhood is a complete oxymoron. I miss him terribly during the day and cannot wait to see him after school, but a sense of me also dreads the hours until bedtime. He’s going to need me, and want me, and whine and then want food and maybe then wont eat the food I cook and then he will moan when I want to go wee and want a sweet before supper or hug the dog too hard and be demanding of my attention when I just need to edit some photos for client and then type up an email for my boss but oh my god I only have him for 2 hours a day what is wrong with me.

So often I take the time I have with him for granted, and so I’ve been consciously trying to spend a solid 30 minutes a day with him, uninterrupted. I know that sounds ridiculously short, but you try put away your phone, your distractions, dinner and work and actively just sit with your child and chat.

I try start from the moment we leave the school. I love the way he runs into my arms, proudly pointing at me to his friend saying ‘my mom’. He wraps his arms around me and stands on my crouched knees to give me a kiss. Getting out of a school is a minefield of distractions, from creche dogs to sandpits and wayward two-year-olds vying for this attention. I have mastered the art of bribery and now always have a treat on me to tempt him to the car faster. Once home I try and ignore the carrots that need julienning, the rice that needs steaming or the bags that need unpacking. Instead, if I’m early enough we make a pt of tea, sit outside and catchup.

Carter is incredible. The things he knows and says and shows me. His little sentences are now 4, 5, 6 words long and his attention to detail is amazing. He has this way of tilting his head when he’s trying to convince you of something, and a little frown he he’s genuinely confused by something. Everything that I don’t want him to do, that he wants to do, gets met with a ‘5 more minutes’ plea from his earnest face and god forbid there’s ever a mess or spill of any kind, he will spend years cleaning it up.

He dances like his mother (badly) to music but dawdles like a sloth in peanut butter walking into school in the morning. He adores babies and dogs and will spend the majority of his time looking for either one to love.

He is so independent and insists on doing everything himself (this, my friends, is why parents are never on time). He fights bedtime like a purple star recipient and sat through is first theatre show better than a 5 year old.

This kid he is bloody terrific. Even with a runny nose and always-dirty-fingernails.

Toddlers. You really do like them more when they’re your own.



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To Kate, On Your 33rd Birthday.

You know you’re getting older when you get woken up at 5 am on your birthday by your 1 year old, and instead of jumping up ready to open a hundred presets, your only wish is for 20 more minutes of sleep. Naturally that didn’t happen, and to be honest – the best part of my day will probably be snuggling with Carter while he was still drowsy and playing with my hair and running his little fingers over my eyelids, and into my nose.

You also know you’re getting old when your birthday present is an electric toothbrush. something you actually wanted. Other wish list items – apart from the ‘you’ve got to be joking’ camera lenses and other such fancy-ware include dishcloths and ‘some nice new crockery’.

Last year, on my 32nd birthday, I wrote myself a letter. I purposefully haven’t gone back to read it incase it sways the tone of this post. Hopefully, after having published this one, the message will be that life has trended upwards. Hopefully.

Celebrating a birthday in Janu-worry is rough.People are still broke, hungover and reeling from the previous year. For some, 2016 was their worst yet, and while for me it wasn’t the absolute best, it was a pretty good one. The biggest achievement I made in the last 365 days, between two birthdays, was the startup and introduction of my photography business. To think that its not even 5 months old is mind blowing. It’s done really well and people seem to actually, really like my photos, a lot. So much so that bookings are flying in and I’m having to now turn down a lot of work – which is both sad but also a lovely feeling. I love it so much. It’s so hard to explain the feeling I get when I know I’ve landed that perfect shot, or when a mom is so grateful to have memories of her with her kids (a rarity) to treasure forever. I pinch myself daily and am so so so happy, grateful and relieved I finally took that little leap of faith. So, as a side note – to each and every person ho has supported me for it – I thank you from the bottom of my overflowing heart. Your comments, likes, shares (and bookings) mean the world to me, really.

33 is an interesting age – it’s a slow creep towards 40 – and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is still a pretty scary thing. Alas, I still have pink floor tiles, no holiday home and endless amounts of bills, but I’m feeling like financially I’m going to get on top of things this year. Really. Cross my heart and hope to invest.

Body wise I’m still a shit storm in leggings. I can no longer blame hormones, but hell, I was last in line when God handed out genetics. Do you know how hard it is when your entire family are skinny as fuck? Crisis. Also, I eat my feelings. So in my 33rd year on earth I need to have less feelings. Apparently that’s the only answer.

I’m also going to look after myself more – in a long term kind of way. So, I’m planning on swopping superficial spending for long term spending. Out with the nails and in with the botox, out with the Pick n Pay clothing splurges and in with the ‘it costs how much??‘ Bodytec. It’s all about preserving, reversing and prolonging at this stage.

We recently lost Barry’s granny and it’s been a reminder to not take my two for granted. They have so much wisdom and so many stories to impart and being around them so often and having them available means one tends to not really appreciate how rare that is. Just last night, as she has done for the past 33 years, my 92 year old Oma sang a pre-birthday song to me in German. That’s pretty special and to be honest, I love it as much now as I did when I was 7. Same for all family. I want more meaningful relationships with my family. Yep, guys. Strap on the big boots, we are going to bond, hard.

We want to spend time with those who value us, and treasure us and less time with those who don’t add value and joy. Luckily we don’t have many people like that in our lives, so not much room for improvement here.

I want to be at home more. I want to decorate and DIY and make my house into a space I love. Pretty hard when you are a triathlete widow with a 1 year old clinging to you at every second, but try I will. I vow to finally knock a hole into the cottage and extend our home, get rid of our revolting floors and buy some grass. All things I’ve been told to be patient on for 3 years. It’s enough. Life’s too short for sandy patches and pink terracotta.

Then, travel. Again, very hard when weekends are spent working or training, but it is something I want to do more of. Even if we keep it local and lekker for now. I want to go out more, see more, photograph more.

And less? I want to waste less, spend less, weigh less and stress less. Less drama, less salt, less traffic and less being polite.

But first, donuts and champagne. Because, Happy Birthday to me. I love you.

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