On Monday, I posted about the formation of the mother identity and the term mother-legs. It was an article I had written years ago when I began my research for Conscious Motherhood, but it’s been coming to mind recently as I’ve realized that I’ve found my mother-legs of two. I was putting Asher to bed a few nights ago while Everest was with my husband waiting for me to put him to bed and it dawned on me that I wasn’t in anguish over the split of knowing that both kids wanted me close at the same time. I thought, “Huh. I must have my mother-of-two-legs!”
I remember a day when Asher was about three months old when I broke down from feeling so overwhelmed by this split. Everest was upset and wanted me to hold him. Asher, just a newborn, needed me to hold me constantly. As soon as I picked up Asher, Everest exploded into hysterics. When I put Asher down, he cried. I was on the verge of tears myself by the time I somehow hobbled my way to a compromise for everyone. Later that evening, I called my friend Carrie and cried about how painful it was for me to feel split. I’ve always been a one-on-one type of person who has done best when I can offer my undivided attention to whoever is in front of me. I didn’t know how to do this mother-of-two thing.
But eventually, over time, I learned. Just as I developed the skills and accessed the resources that allowed me to develop my mother-legs with Everest, the same occurred in the development of my mother-of-two-legs. In fact, we’ve all been asked to stretch through the transition of growing our family. Everest has had to learn to share his parents’ time and attention (not easy after 4 1/2 years as an only child). My husband and I have to had to learn how to divide ourselves so that we’re meeting everyone’s needs as best we can. We’ve had to accept the fact that sometimes Everest will have to wait and that this is good for him. Even Asher, once past the newborn stage of constant need, has had to learn to wait sometimes. It’s required a letting go for all of us that has occurred in layers so that now, about a year after Asher entered our lives, we’ve adjusted to the change.
As always happens with transitions when we allow ourselves to let go consciously, now we’re not merely managing the challenges but enjoying the gifts of life with two. There are increasingly more moments when Everest and Asher are able to turn to each other to meet their need for connection; it’s one of my deepest joys to see the two of them at play.
And as Asher gets older, instead of needing to take turns attending to each of their desires, we’re able to find activities that they both enjoy.
There are plenty of challenges that arise every day – sometimes every hour – in raising two children. But having waded through the transition which landed us firmly on the shores of “a family of four”, the challenges are no longer insurmountable but an accepted part of our lives. The formation of a new identity happens slowly; transformations take time. After slogging through the storms of the adjustments stage of transitions, the beauty of the new life unfolds.