on being "just mom"

Today marks 2 months that Madeleine CaiQun has been with us. It’s been quite a ride so far, and we’re so grateful to be a family of four ūüôā

I’ve written a lot about the transition for us as a family, CaiQun’s transition, Miranda’s transition, etc., but tonight I¬†am going to share some of¬†what the transition for me has been like, going from mom-to-one to mom-to-two and doing so in these specific circumstances.

I feel like I have become, much more now than I was before, “just mom.” What I mean by that is that my life is very much occupied¬†by my kiddos. I have less time, energy, and money for things outside of our family life, and whether we’re home or out and about, my girls occupy most of my time and energy. Being mom-to-two requires a lot more of me than being mom-to-one did. I am exhausted most nights by the time I go to bed.

I actually think it’s more fun. I love having both of them around so much. And there’s just more going on – more activity, more to observe, more to teach, more to do. I enjoy that.

Of course, one reason there’s more to teach and more to do is that my two girls quite frequently irritate one another. Spending time with just one of them is a piece of cake – each of them is very sweet, generally willing to go along with what I ask them to do, and they’re happy and engaging. However, they are significantly less willing to go along with each other when they’re together. Honestly, for two girls fairly close in age who have only been sisters for two months, I think they get along remarkably well. Their faces light up when they see each other, and they have a very sweet bond already,¬†but of course they have their moments. Inevitably their desires come into conflict, which creates frustration for them (and sometimes for me). Those are my prime teaching moments these days. I am actually incredibly thankful for those moments. Both girls need to learn about kindness, about sharing, about loving others when it doesn’t come easily, and this is the perfect context. The reason¬†each is¬†so easy to spend time with one-on-one is not because they are perfect children but moreso that¬†during those times, neither one experiences much frustration or hardship. Of course they seem sweet and easygoing. When things are going my way, I give that impression, too. It’s when things aren’t going our way that all of us exhibit our true character, and my girls are no different. These are my opportunities to teach them about the character traits I hope they will develop and to point out to them their own brokenness and need for God. I am thankful for that, though¬†it is exhausting at times.

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In general, I really enjoy our times at home together. Matt has a pretty full teaching schedule this semester, so¬†the girls and I are on our own for a lot of the week, and I¬†honestly enjoy that time¬†with them. I love days like today when we snuggle together on Miranda’s bed and read book after book after book. I love pulling chairs up to the counter and having them “help” me cook – they’ve gotten very good at dumping ingredients into the crock pot. I love that Miranda is starting to engage with the world around her and the books we read in deeper ways, and we get to have real conversations about all of those things. I love helping CaiQun learn English and watching her¬†develop both her language and her motor skills. Though this is certainly not the most significant blessing, I love living life primarily in yoga pants.

There are times, though, when I would appreciate more adult conversation.¬†The girls and I¬†have a lot of conversations about things like what might be an appropriate way to ask for something. CaiQun generally attempts a whine before using her “help” sign, and Miranda is more¬†likely to yell to me that she needs more chocolate milk than she is to ask politely whether she may have more. We’re working on it…but that’s where we’re at in this stage of life.

On a related note, I miss having time with friends and interacting with other adults. This has definitely been the hardest part of the transition for me. As a mom-to-one, I could take Miranda with me to most things I wanted to do. As long as I packed some books or play dough or art supplies for her, she was more than happy to accompany me on coffee dates or meals out with friends, and we could fairly easily go to art shows around town. It’s a bit more difficult with two kids. Not only do your chances of a child needing something from you double simply by virtue of there now being two of them, but there is also the synergy of their interactions with each other being quite likely to create some agitation. Running errands with both girls has been a fairly simple transition (though not totally without hiccups), but the outings that involve any type of social interactions are harder. I go out less these days, and when I do go out, I have fewer interactions and often don’t really feel like I’m a part of what’s going on with everyone else. Of course, most of our outings are¬†primarily¬†with people who don’t have small children, which¬†plays into¬†that dynamic. Sometimes it works better than others, and it’s not always predictable. We’re doing what we can, but this part of the change in our lives is still the hardest for me.

And along with that, I am learning that I am more selfish than I thought. Like I said above, it’s when things don’t go our way that we show our true character, and I have not handled the hard times as well as I would have hoped. The grace of God that I describe to my girls in their hard times is the same grace that¬†I need to fall on, too.

And God, in His grace, is giving me other joys. In particular, I am excited about starting to homeschool my girls. I’ll start doing pre-school with Miranda this fall and CaiQun the next. Miranda is so ready for it. She already knows much of what you would hope a child would know at the end of their time in pre-school, though her fine motor skills (i.e. writing) are obviously not yet kindergarten-ready. I love the conversations we’ve been having lately about her experiences and her pretend play and about the books we’ve been reading, and I can’t wait to get into more and more of that. She and I have also really been enjoying learning Bible verses together, and I think she’ll look forward to doing a special time of “school” with me. I’ve started researching curriculum choices, and I need to get Matt’s input before choosing a direction. I’m really excited for it. And I’m excited to continue to work with CaiQun on her learning and growing. The people we’ve met with from First Steps have already given me some ideas of more¬†things I can do to help her continue to develop, and I’m excited to begin implementing those and to be intentionally working with her on English acquisition and being able to express herself more fully.

I enjoyed Miranda as a baby, and I’ve enjoyed (and am enjoying) this toddler phase, but I am¬†also so excited¬†about¬†the increasing depth of conversations with my kids, explaining more and more to them, investigating questions together, and discussing ideas. Homeschool pre-school will be just the beginning, and I’m excited for that.

In spite of its demands and challenges, I am very much enjoying this stage of being mom-to-two. It really is a stage of being “just mom.” I’m not able to do much beyond that. But this is where God has called me. This is where He has placed me and the people in whose path He has put me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a mom to both Miranda and Madeleine CaiQun, and I want to honor Him in how I do that.

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