1). One was beginning to feel like only a moderate challenge and you fancy yourself an over-achiever.

2). You created some sort of genetic marvel on your first and you wanted to see if lightening really can strike twice.

3). Your toddler started carrying around food simply so the dogs will “play with her”.

4). Sleep is for suckers and you feel comfortable pushing the boundaries of the caffeine content in your breast milk.

5). “Mommies of Two” felt like a much cooler cult than “Mommies of One” and you desperately wanted to learn the secret handshake.

6). You missed your snuggle partner and your toddler will now only hug you when she wants something.

On most days it looks like this

On most days it looks like this

7). You figured your social life was already down the toilet since you now have to beg the checkout clerk for adult conversation.

8). You already purchased what you call the “mini-SUV” because a “Soccer Mom Van” is out of the question.

9). Any family pack of ticket always come with 4 and it’s just wasteful to throw out an “extra ticket”. 

10). MTV was offering a reality show for moms with a newborn and a toddler, but that idea got canceled when they realized nobody would watch that.

Sometimes it looks like this

Sometimes it looks like this

In all seriousness, there is no one right reason to expand your family (but there are unlimited wrong ones) and if you are anything like our family we thank our lucky stars every day that we did. 

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Bad Advice

This go around, I have finally recognized that I am the gate keeper. There are no set rules that dictate the do’s and don't s of parenting my children so I am eliminating the following pieces of bad advice:  

1). A baby only cries for a reason

Lie. Sometimes you can try simultaneously: soothing, feeding, burping, singing, rocking, or changing your baby and they will still cry. Don’t beat yourself up when you have tried everything, tag your partner in and quickly locate some ice cream.

2). Wait 6 to 8 weeks before introducing a pacifier or a bottle  

You might as well Velcro your baby to your boob because you will be their only source of food and comfort for the next year, and likely until they start college.

3). Don’t vaccinate your children

If you listen to this advice, you don’t have time to be reading my blog. You should be out researching cures for diseases such as Polio and Small Pox. Oh wait, they already exist.

4). Don’t exercise for 6 weeks

Unfortunately, you cannot consider breastfeeding a form of exercise. While you shouldn’t be doing squats or bench pressing anything, it’s amazing what a walk can do for your mental health after feeling like you’ve been under quarantine since you gave birth.

5). Your toddler is trying to manipulate you

While obviously my toddler is a genius and capable of more than most well trained Labradors, manipulation assumes that toddlers have the ability to use a part of their brain that hasn't actually developed yet. It would be like saying your baby was kicking you in utero before he developed limbs. Sometimes toddlers are tiny terrors, but that's why they make them so gosh darn adorable. 

6). Get your newborn on a schedule

A newborn eats every two hours. Wrong! They eat on demand and sometimes that can be every 15 minutes. The only item scheduled into you day for the first months should be humming the mantra, “Stay calm, this too shall pass”.

Parenting is all about trial and error. Sometimes you gain a nugget of insight from a fellow Mom or from your past parenting experience which becomes a life saver. Other times you simply have to kiss your baby and throw the bad advice out with the bathwater. 

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The Toddler Dance

If there is one thing I hate more than anything it is the just you wait and see smug-mom look. This typically comes from moms whose babies are older than yours. I remember the first time I saw it. I had just joined my Mom’s Group and I naively asked what I had to look forward to. One mother quickly chimed in, offering advice and wisdom, as her toddler carefully sorted through grass and dirt and decided that the grass looked much more delicious. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that if I could go back in time, I’d definitely be the one giving myself that look. These days I have to ask, what in God’s name was so difficult about taking care of a baby? Let’s put the sleep deprivation aside for a moment and pretend that doesn’t exist (which is exactly how second babies are conceived). Babies cannot really do anything and they nap for over half of the day! 

Fast forward to full blown toddler-ville, where I don’t have to worry about Charlotte eating grass since she is terrified of it, but she did get stuck in the doggie door today, and she napped for a grand total of one hour and fifteen minutes.

Now, I obviously do know what was so hard about being the mother of a young baby. It was the lack of sleep, the baby's overwhelming dependency on you and the drastic life-altering reality that is new motherhood. With each stage there is a dance and no matter what, you will always feel like you’ve both arrived a few weeks late to the disco. Once you actually get into a groove, you are so gosh-darn proud you may even pat yourself on the back, just in time to watch ‘em hit a new milestone and oh so quickly, paradise is lost. Every stage has its challenges and rewards. I tend to look back and think that one had to be the toughest, then suddenly the dance changes and sure enough, I’m right back in the fetal position on the playroom floor, while Charlotte prances around me as we listen to the Raffi station on Pandora (visualize Max from Where the Wild Things Are). For all our missteps, the way my heart feels when Charlotte shares her joy with me, be it through books, songs, kisses, or her pure adoration of our dogs, it is absolutely worth it. So I can smugly say, with zero percent confidence, to all you moms whose babies are younger than mine, that the toddler dance is by far the hardest and most exhausting.

Me and my dance partner

Me and my dance partner

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