Dear Mom of a Baby and a Toddler,
You, my dear, are in the trenches.
I have three children now–ages 1, 3, and 5. So, technically, I’m right there with you.
But, really? I’m not.
What I am going to tell you now, dear mama of a baby and a toddler, may just be revolutionary: My life was harder then than it is now.
I made it. And you will, too!
Looking back, I often wonder how I survived my second baby’s first year. My first two girls are just over two years apart in age. Yet, even at 28 months, my oldest was still in diapers.
Steeped in postpartum depression, anxiety plagued me every time we left the house.
My mantra of the day was: “I just can’t get it together. I just can’t get it together!!”
“God, please H-E-L-P me!”
My Facebook statuses consisted of the likes of “My child has smeared her poop on the wall…again.” and “Should I call poison control if my baby has eaten some of my toddler’s poop?”
I am sure I grossed people out. But it was my cry for help.
My mom joked that I should have been a pooptologist. Changing diapers and scrubbing potty accidents from the carpet consumed my days.
I turned 30 three weeks after my second baby was born, and I quickly traded in any stylish clothes from my 20s with booger-encrusted, snot-smeared sweats.
I lived the mom frump.
Getting out the door was a nightmare. For some reason I thought it would benefit me to be involved in not one but in two in-depth Bible studies each week. This meant getting out the door by 9 a.m. two mornings per week–with an infant and a toddler.
Did I have the diapers? Did I have the pull-ups? Did I have their wipes and sippy cups and snacks and hairbows? And where were their jackets and their socks and their shoes?
After a while, I decided not to leave the house any more.
I stayed home. I was utterly embarrassed. I lived in a daze.
And in my darkest moments I mulled over in my head how my life was harder than everyone else’s.
(Oh how humbling…how incredibly humbling!…that is to admit!)
But you know what? It all was but a blip in time.
Dear Mama of a Baby and a Toddler,
If you are overwhelmed right now, know that it does get better.
Things changed when baby #3 came along. I don’t know if it’s that the depression had subsided or if I just felt more comfortable in my not-so-new-anymore mama skin, but things just got easier.
I have to laugh when I think back over this past year with three: We leave the house with the bare minimum possible. You see, once baby girl #3 arrived, I realized that I just could never have all three perfectly dressed and just together all at the same time.
And I embraced that.
Baby Girl has gone without hairbows. She is now 15 months and has worn shoes all of maybe five times in her life.
And when I drop her off at the church nursery I don’t even leave a diaper bag. “No bag? No snacks? No bibs or pacifiers?”
“Nope,” I laugh. “Here’s a diaper in case she needs changing.” And I hand it over–one.single.diaper.
I pinch myself at my new-found confidence–how I can get out of my mini van without feeling my blood pressure rising, even if my kids are screaming…(which happens, often).
My days are still not easy. No, sometimes they are very, very hard–but I delight in each of my three girls. They are one of the greatest joys in my life.
I wouldn’t trade any one of them for the world.
Those days when I had a baby and a toddler were not all bad. But they were not at all easy. And without postpartum depression, perhaps they would have been more manageable.
Regardless, mothering a baby and a toddler at the same time is always a challenge.
Dear Mama of a Baby and a Toddler,
I know life may be very overwhelming right now. I know sometimes you just want to throw up your hands in the air and cry.
I know that you sometimes tell God that you don’t know what He was thinking when He made you a mother.
(I promise you…He knew exactly what He was doing when He picked you to mother your children!)
I know that sometimes you feel frumpy and lonely and at your wit’s end.
It will get better.
Go in grace, Mama. Go in grace.
What is your advice for mothers of babies and toddlers?
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