How Having A Second Child Transformed Me (In A Good Way)

by Lindsay Wolf
Originally Published: 
You’re A Totally Different Mom With Each Baby
Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

Here’s a parenting confession for the ages. I used to actively avoid reading articles on Scary Mommy when I was pregnant with my first child. I wish I was making this shit up, but I’m not. The writer whose words you are reading right now on the very website I love with my whole fucking heart used to steer clear of it.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

Allow me to explain.

During those blissfully ignorant nine-ish months, I obsessed over living in a cute little bubble filled with all of my fluffy hopes and dreams of becoming the ultimate Pinterest-worthy mom. I was much too busy aspiring to be a “happy mommy” to spend my time preparing to openly vent about the complete and utter sucker-punch that is motherhood. Thanks to being totally exhausted since I’m now neck-deep into parenting, I can’t remember exactly why I was so adamant back then about avoiding the raw and messy truths found on this phenomenal website. I just know that it seemed very important at the time to maintain the utmost positivity while I was newly pregnant, and apparently that meant not exposing myself to anything that might pop the bubble.

Yes, I was that kind of gal who preached “good vibes” while I nested and prepped to embark on becoming a first-time mama. So much so that whenever I saw someone share a Scary Mommy article online packed to the brim with all the authenticity of being a tired ass mom who shows up for her kids, I just kept scrolling.

Then I birthed my daughter. Three years later, I birthed my son. And now, I’m proud to say that I’m a staff writer for Scary Mommy. Once you finish reading the rest of my story, you might say that I’ve come full circle. But based on how I’ve been living lately, it just feels like a bunch of illegible scribbles.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

Isn’t there a quote somewhere about God laughing at your plans? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. I entered the first year of motherhood innocently planning to make all of my baby food from scratch and nurse my daughter until she self-weaned as we happily whispered sweet nothings to each other. I had three different types of infant-wearing contraptions ready for action, a bunch of chlorine-free, eco-friendly diapers tucked away in my closet, and my meditation app was still on my phone for all of those breaks I naively assumed I’d have to sit still, close my eyes, and apparently not fall the fuck to sleep.

My daughter June burst into this world with every ounce of energy a child can, and I spent the first eighteen months at home with her successfully keeping up. She did manage to exclusively breastfeed for that first year, was held mostly by me in those wraps, joined me on peaceful daily walks around our neighborhood, and ate an extensive array of plant-based, organic meals once she transitioned to solids. And I certainly never exposed her to the sheer horror of — gasp! — sugary foods, because that would just be sooo irresponsible. If you had measured my success at parenting solely by my Instagram account, you would have thought I was totally rocking the mom game. And it felt awesome to present that to the world.

Before June officially entered our lives, I remember taking hours to study up and read every single parenting book I could get my hands on. I successfully managed to find time before she started walking to keep my promise of meditating a few days a week. I documented her moves by the hour like the creepy paparazzi, which completely fucked up the storage on my phone. And my parenting journey was pretty much on an enviably steady cruise control, which is how I felt most comfortable operating at the time. I even had a nifty little rule for screen time, which was that we wouldn’t have any! Yes, I kid you not. I was realistically planning to only have my kids watch TV on special occasions, like Easter and their birthdays.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

It’s been nearly five years since June was born. And let’s just say, a lot has changed. This past month, I’ve spent my time chasing her 22-month-old brother Everett around the house after he pulled butter knives out of our kitchen drawers and swung them around screaming like a wild animal. I’ve yelled at both kids for turning the outside of our front door into a crayon-laden MOMA exhibit. And I spend most of my time serving them “dinners” of popsicles and Ritz crackers that they eat on their laps as they watch an endless loop of Kate and Lilly episodes on YouTube. I even shove my son into the same Pampers pull-ups my daughter is growing out of because I don’t have the fucking energy to change a real diaper. If I’m offered the rare moment to sit still, I’m either zoning out on my phone or asleep, and my meditation app is nowhere to be fucking found. I also legit forgot to post about my son’s 1st birthday, and nothing about my house — or life — feels Pinterest-worthy at the moment.

The difference between how I’m raising my kids now and how I started out as their mom is staggering. All of the overly ambitious, Montessori-inspired expectations and standards I set out to enforce have gone down the drain as I spastically try to balance the basic needs of my children, manage a household, work from home, clean up messes by the minute, tend to a marriage that hasn’t seen a date-night in forever, and grab the measly scraps left over for my social life. Instead of reading books like I did before I birthed June, I spent my pregnancy with Everett binge-listening to podcasts in my car while his big sis belted songs from Frozen in the back seat. I’m too worn out to cook, and I certainly don’t give a shit about how much our collective screens are on.

It seems that my serene first-time stroll around the parenting block led to a ride on the hot mess express. And if I’m being totally honest, I’m really glad it did.

Courtesy of Lindsay Wolf

My daughter made me a mom. But adding her brother into the mix transformed me into a woman that I actually enjoy being. I’ve kicked perfection out the door mostly because I don’t have any room left over for it. There there are way too many L.O.L. dolls, legos, old food, and dirty laundry scattered all over my house to care about something as burdensome as pretending I always know what I’m doing. I’ve forcibly relaxed into this motherhood thing the second time around, and I’m beginning to think that this is exactly how it’s supposed to go. While I certainly wish I had as many pictures of Everett as I do of June stored on my iCloud and the focus to schedule out some future meditation sessions, I don’t wish to be anything other than myself living this life with the hilariously amazing family I have right now. I love that my kids eat crackers with a fiery passion and know every single word to “Into the Unknown.” And I love who I’ve become as I’ve let loose, stopped allowing society to dictate my priorities, and mucked through the metaphorical (and literal) mud with them.

Of course, this version of the story leaves out a bunch of important details like the eighteen months of postpartum blues I unexpectedly endured after birthing June, a surprising mental health disorder diagnosis two years ago that threw me for a loop, learning to love a fat postpartum body after decades of successfully forcing it into thinness, and a total career overhaul that looks nothing like how I used to operate. I firmly believe that all of these personal experiences directly shaped the mother I grew into becoming for both of my kids, especially because they all began while I was that first-time mom with big Pinterest dreams. It’s as if God wasn’t just laughing at my plans — she was begging me to shatter them and trust a bigger picture.

As I’ve unraveled into the vulnerable act of wholeheartedly raising June and Everett and have embraced both the painful and the joyful moments, I now realize that “good vibes” only work if you leave room for the messy ones too. Without my daughter, I might have never opened myself up to understanding this truth. And without my son, I might have never begun to really live it. I haven’t only been a totally different mom with each of my babies, I’ve also grown into a totally different version of myself that strengthened with each of their arrivals. And maybe it’s always supposed to be this way for us moms. Maybe we’re supposed to get on the parenting rollercoaster all done up and seemingly ready to go, only to lose our favorite sunglasses as the wind whips our hair out of place, realize we didn’t have to keep it all together to begin with, and just throw our hands up in the air while we enjoy the ride.

Now that I really think about it, writing for this incredible website five years after avoiding its gutsy parenting content is exactly what I ended up needing to do. I may have done my first round of motherhood aspiring to be a “happy mommy.” But now, I think it’s way more badass to be a Scary one.

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