tending our garden-life with two children

"Come to my garden.  Rest there in my arms. 
There I'll see you safely grown and on your way."

 -Secret Garden

Two months ago, Jonathan and I joyfully stepped into our new roles as parents of two children. We're still very much adjusting and tweaking our approaches to, well, everything. Our marriage, our budget, our time, our daily routine. It's been a dance for sure and one that I'm not sure we'll ever know all the steps to. And maybe, we're not meant to master this. Perhaps we're simply supposed to listen for music Jesus writes and let Him direct our rhythm no matter how much we fumble through. 

I'm finding that life with two children is, for lack of a better word: more. More satisfying. More exhausting.  More grace-inducing. More abundant and beautiful and messy and good all at once. 

There have been moments when I feel my knees buckling--at both the good and hard--intensity of what our life can look like. 

"They both need all of me right now." I can't do this. 

"They both need all of me right now." Isn't that wonderful?

As I've mentioned before, Jonathan works a demanding job (twelve hour shifts, three in row, alternating between day shift and night shift each time, plus a thirty minute commute). To say it mentally and physically exhausts him is an understatement.

While we're thankful for the income, we're hollow inside from the stress of it. It drains both of us to work alone for such long periods at the different roles we have in our family. Since Scout came, the fight to invest in time together as been at an all time high. There has been little communication which has led to miscommunication (which is a nice way of saying we've fought over stupid stuff a lot). But there's also been lots of "I'm sorry's" and napping together because, in our family, we believe that sleep and apologies can fix just about an relational problem. 

For me, parenting two children is easier than I thought because I've got more experience and confidence than I did my first time. And parenting two children is also harder because it required more of me than thought it would. Also, I'm more tired now. But am I allowed to say it's a good tired? As in, when I finally climb into bed and the fatigue I've been ignoring for hours settles on me like a heavy blanket, I feel two things: pride and thankfulness. I'm proud of how hard I work each day and I'm soul-deep thankful that Jesus gives me the ability to do it all. 

@brittanymramussen asked me on Instagram how I handle bedtime routines with both children. It's gotten a bit easier now but, at first it was really hard! Babywearing definitely helped on the nights Jonathan had to work. There were several nights of me putting Scout in the Solly and then singing Behr his lullaby while carrying both of them. It was exhausting, but doable. Now, because Scout is more predictable, I start Behr's routine about 40 minutes earlier than I used to. That way I can at least get Behr down and then tend to Scout. Sometimes that means she has to cry for a few minutes while I'm tucking him in, which I hate. But it's impossible for me to be in two places at once. If only! 

Overall, I'd say we're all still trying to figure out our places, Behr especially. He just so happened to turn three and start potty training right after we brought a new baby into his life. It's such a large upheaval of his little world that we feel for him, poor guy. He's very tender with his new sister and aware of her presence but is still trying to understand all the changes. I'm proud of how he's trying to adapt. It's not easy to grow up.

I hope one day we can tell Behr and Scout about the magic that sprouted in our orderly little garden once they arrived. It was as if we had our neat rows all tilled and tidied up and then suddenly there were two delicate, foreign plants that required our constant attention. This one needs direct sunlight, don't over water it! This one needs shade and fresh water daily! This one needs room to grow wild. This one needs a tight pot with dense soil. Prune this one carefully. Let this one rest and root deeply. And on and on it's went, learning to tend our babies and guard them as they grow. What a gift it is to experience this with them! 

So much of what I hear about this phase of parenthood from others who've gone before is that, "It all goes so fast!" And, my oh my, do I agree. And yet, I feel a glory-weight slowing down how I perceive this season. I felt it when we were putting Behr to sleep and I overheard Behr tell Jonathan, "I so happy you're home!" And I then turned around to see him cupping Daddy's face in those tiny, dimpled palms of his. I felt it when Scout's mouth split open in a gummy smile at 4am after nursing. I swear I saw starlight in her eyes.  I felt it when Jonathan pulled me in close to tell about how much he loves my body even though it wears the marks in all the worst places of bearing our children. 

In those moments, I believe God is tethering my heart to this specific time. Don't miss this. You will only pass this way once. Open your heart to see the beauty. You're walking on holy ground now. 

And so if you were to ask me what life is like with a three year old and two month old, I'd most likely refrain from mentioning how tired we are or how frustrated I get never truly being alone because those are small prices to pay for the grace we're experiencing as a family. 

So life with two? Yes, it's hard and messy. But I've never known growth--in any form--to look different. So here's to kneeling down to plunge our hands and hearts fully into the the rich, soil of raising our babies. 

What glorious, needed work we've been entrusted with.