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Crossing the Great Divide--Again

Transitions are never easy. Personally, I’m not very good with change. Transforming myself from a married, working, largely responsibility-free adult to a being full time mother was the biggest change I thought I’d make in my life. Once I discovered what it was like to be a mom, I thought I had all the answers. Have kids, don’t have kids—there couldn’t be two more absolutely different ways of life. But as with all lessons we think we’ve learned for good, there’s always a new development that shows us how little we know.

I never thought I’d be looking across yet another great divide—the vast distance between me, with my one child, and my friends who were suddenly parties of 4 (or more.) I watch my friends juggle toddlers and newborns, and gaze down at my own growing belly, and start to panic.

Before we had children, J and I were mystified by the lifestyles of our friends who did. Suddenly they weren’t fun anymore. They never wanted to go the movies, they were late for everything or cancelled at the last minute. Instead of comparing notes on hip new restaurants and up-and-coming bands, they talked about strange things like the cleanliness of indoor play spaces and some group called The Wiggles.

Then we had a baby, and we got it. So we turned our attention toward wishing all of our kid-free friends would get with the program, too. How dare they ask us to brunch at 11:30am? Don’t they know that’s nap time? And couldn’t they have picked a closer place to meet for coffee—after all, we’re the ones paying a sitter. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating someone’s 30th birthday at a local park, we muttered to each other on the way to yet another dark, pulsing club that didn’t even open until long past our normal bedtimes. Kids don’t let you sleep off the nights when you had a little too much fun. We knew from experience.

Then the first birthdays came around, and all at once (or so it seemed) everyone was pregnant again. #2s were popping out right and left. And my formerly rock solid, up-for-anything mom posse was suddenly spread all over the map. What happened to our picnic playdates, adventures at the mall (taking turns trying on clothes while everyone else wrangled babies in the aisles of the dressing rooms) and spontaneous trips to the zoo? Where were our leisurely latte mornings at the park swings, our girls nights out (because surely our husbands could handle bedtime just this once?)

One kid and you can still be spontaneous, flexible, and fun. Hey, I’ve never even carried a diaper bag. I may have complained a lot in those first few months, because learning as you go is never easy. But looking back, being just E and me was the easiest thing in the world. Forgot the pick up the dry cleaning and it’s ten minutes till closing? Toss the little one in the car seat and go. Last minute decision to hang out at the beach? A couple of towels, some sunblock , the sand toys and a mega container of Puffs is all you really need.

But multiply by two and suddenly the word “spontaneous” has disappeared from my mom-of-two friends’ vocabularies. Double the schedules, double the diapers, double the toys and the bottles and the messes. Everyone is exhausted and hassled. People are starting to hate their husbands. Girls Night Out seems to be on hold until sometime in 2015. We used to call in the morning and say “Hey, what’s the plan for today?” Now, we’re scheduling things three weeks in advance, and the two-kid moms always have an exit strategy in place—naps gone haywire, teething, adjustment issues, potty training setbacks.

I’m taking full advantage of my last few months alone with E, and trying to be as spontaneous and flexible as I can now that I’ve seen what is waiting for us on the other side. Which brings me to this question: Which is the harder adjustment, going from non parent to parent, or from one kid to two? Is the hardest part behind me now that I know what’s in store for me as a mom, or is the most difficult transition still ahead? Are my days of cool, hip all-around-town mom gone forever now that there will be two kids in the mix?

A friend asked—via her Facebook status—when having two kids was going to get fun. She got two responses: “When they go to college,” and “Never.” Both, of course, were intended to be funny. We’re thrilled to be welcoming another baby to our family. A huge part of the reason we decided to have a second child was for E’s sake. J and I both feel strongly that giving her a sibling is one of the greatest gifts we’ll ever be able to offer. Now, if I can just make it until they can both walk, talk, eat and use the potty…

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