When we had Ada, we had a lot of support. Everyone knew we were in for the shock of our lives. Parents came to stay, friends made meals, other friends just came to listen to what life was like with a baby. With Iain, it has been totally different. Either people assume we know what we are doing this time so we don't need as much help, or because he is a summer baby they are all more busy and not as desperate to get out of the house. On top of that, most of my mom friends are either pregnant or had a second child just before we did so we can't all rely on each other like we did with just one kid because we are too tired or too busy. To compound matters further, the worst time of day for Rick and I is bedtime when both kids need the most attention. That also just happens to be when our social, sanity maintaining opportunities are at their peak.
Once you mix that all together and add in financial stress, work stress for both of us, and exam stress for Rick, you have the recipe for short tempers. We also have a side of separation anxiety, underdeveloped communication skills and whininess from Ada.
Should I really wonder why I want to call all of my friends who don't have kids and congratulate them on a decision well made? Or why I'm really tempted to tell everyone with one kid to quit while they are ahead? Or why I saw a pregnant woman with a toddler coming out of daycare yesterday and wished her the best of luck in my "you are so screwed" voice and then just started laughing when I saw that she has a dog too?
Maybe some people can handle juggling two kids and a dog and a spouse and a job or a part-time job and running a household and having a social calendar too. I can't. The thought of getting a dog makes my head spin, not like taking that out of the equation solves anything really. It's still ridiculous to think that one person can do it all. And yet, I try.
I'm glad that women's rights have come so far and that we can now hold jobs that were previously reserved only for men. But I'm really pissed off at the fact that we have ridiculous expectations for moms these days. We have crappy maternity leave, if any. Crappy paternity leave, if any. We have made two household incomes the standard. Our extended families no longer live right next door to lend a hand. And how much better are we for it?
I strongly believe that my kids should not spend more time with a caregiver each week than they do with me. That's just my opinion. That's how I'm made. That's what I want from life. I'm not saying I don't want to work or contribute to society. I'm not saying that I want to be a stay-at-home mom. What I am saying is that I think we took a wrong turn somewhere in our effort to achieve equality for everyone and we've just broken parts of a system that worked really well and helped raise generations of healthy, well-balanced children who feel loved. I'm not sure what effect our current standards will have on future generations. Only time will tell. I can only hope for the best.
Moral of the story: Support systems are key to maintaining sanity while raising a child. Build yours with care.