Sometimes I forget what it was like to have one child. Not that it’s been a really long time since it was just my husband, our son Miles, our two dogs, and myself — it’s been two and a half years. And it’s not that I have an enormous family or anything, though it’s certainly chaotic enough. It’s that life moves so fast and it doesn’t matter how much time you spend trying to soak up and absorb the now, it’s never enough. You’ll never be able to hold on to today.
I don’t mean to sound depressed or anything. I’m not sad, wistfully contemplating my life, I’m just thinking about how special it is to be able to spend time one on one with your kids after your family grows.
Now that Miles is in preschool, I have about nine hours a week to spend with my youngest, Spencer, who is 2.5 years old. Yesterday after we dropped Miles off in the morning, Spencer and I took our time leisurely running a few errands, including a trip to a certain discount store that gets people very riled up when you mention it on your blog. Over the last year, I’ve dramatically reduced the number of trips I take to the store, only because the experience of taking both children to the store is truly horrifying. And they’re not even bad kids (I don’t think…)! They’re just being kids, a toddler and preschooler who walk to talk to everyone, touch everything, sit or walk where they want to sit or walk. It’s exhausting and I don’t know how my friends with larger families do it. *deep humble bow* to you folks.
Yesterday was a different experience, one I didn’t realize I’d missed so much — walking quietly through the store, pointing out different objects and colors, asking my son to identify different products. He was delightful, crying out with excitement when he recognized something, smiling and waving at fellow customers. I wasn’t frantic by the time we reached the cashier and I didn’t have to sprint after him in the general direction of the exits, abandoning my wallet and purchases (*cough* not that I’ve ever had to do that or anything). When we returned home to a quiet house, he immediately went into the playroom to play with his toys without having to share or fight over Buzz Lightyear. I heard him from the other room saying “Supaman!! Fly!!!” as he zoomed around the room. He was content and happy.
Right about now you’re probably shaking your head and thinking “Wow. What an awful mother. She has two wonderful children and can’t even appreciate it.” That’s not the case though. I absolutely do appreciate it and cherish them. I love them more than I ever thought possible.
But it’s true that sometimes I feel guilty for the things they’ve each missed out on because of the stuff that comes with having close in age, same-sex siblings: shared bedrooms, never getting a bath by yourself, squabbles over
toys darn near everything, and general chaos. I know they are having a rich childhood experience with a sibling that will make them grow in many ways. They love each other and have so much fun together but sometimes I remember the relative calm and I miss it. I miss the focus that I felt with one child, I guess.
And I don’t want to sound like having one child is easy. It’s not. A new baby, when they’re little and when they’re grown, is hard whether they’re an only child or if they have brothers or sisters. I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m belittling the very important job of raising one child. It’s just a different experience from the one of having more than one child and it brings new challenges.
I suppose the obvious answer is to find ways to develop the individual relationships I have with my boys while continuing to grow the bond that they have and our family has together. But how do you do that? I feel blessed to have the opportunity while Miles is at school to spend time with Spencer but how do I make time for just Miles now?
The bottom line is that I wouldn’t change our situation for the world, but maybe there are things I could and should change that will help us all.
Do you have any ideas for me? Do you struggle with this too?