The are several reasons for this. I'm an older parent... so the first child was a big shift in lifestyle. I was used to working whenever I wanted and being fully dedicated to my job. Not to say there weren't other things in my life, but the work life balance just wasn't really something I ever thought about. Eric and I both worked and had jobs we were absolutely devoted to. But having a child made me learn efficiencies in my time I never knew possible. You know the saying, "if you want something done find a busy person to do it" -- that is so true. I've learned how to cram 80 hours of work into 35 and keep a million balls in the air at once.
But, it isn't just learning the balance and routine and creating those efficiencies. Moving to Sacramento has helped immensely. Those hours of driving that I no longer have to do have been a life saver. And a bonus that I didn't anticipate was that we have developed a real community here -- one that we never had to the same degree in the Bay Area. I always felt I didn't have time to socialize -- but, that time is so well spent in terms of happier children, feeling more connected to our community, and having people that you can call on when we need a little help.
I've reflected a lot this last year on how these changes have come about. In Kailey's second year of life, I was on edge. This time is totally different. I feel like we've landed somewhere really good for us. I feel more seasoned as a parent. I'm much better at rolling with the punches and being flexible. I'm better at reaching out to others. I'm better at talking to people and learning from them. I'm more open to admitting my shortcomings as a parent and being ok with them (ie I'm not a crafter. I don't make things for my kids. And, that's OK.)
I've found that this time I am more aware of what's coming and better able to relax and enjoy the ages. Maybe it's the age gap and having some distance from a one year old that makes me more patient with this one year old -- and more aware of how fleeting the time really is. For every aggravation that comes with the age, I now know that those things shall pass, and pass quickly, along with all the sweetness and cuddles and nose rubs and discoveries and excitement that only a one year old can possess.
My job is more settled now -- and I love my job. Not having aggravation at work makes a big difference.
And, I've learned some tricks of the trade. Alden goes to bed in his crib on his own! I can scarcely believe I can write those words, given the years of trouble we've had with getting Kai to transition to her own bed. But, with Alden, I give him some night time milk while reading stories (man, he LOVES stories. He says "bok" "bok" and points at the pile of books. He wants to read them all. And he anticipates the pages. In Goodnight Moon as we come to the page about the old lady who was whispering hush, Alden puts his finger to his lips and says, "shhhhh". It is the cutest thing on the planet). Anyway, after we finish reading, I brush his teeth, give him a long hug, put him in his crib and HE GOES TO SLEEP. I mean, he doesn't stay in his bed all night. Let's not get crazy. He's usually in our bed by 2 AM. But, not having to lay next to him until he falls asleep means that I have an extra hour every evening to catch up on things, spend some time with Kai, or just relax. It makes a big difference.
I also think that having two has countless benefits -- and maybe this is the age difference again. But, Kai is a huge help. She plays with Alden and entertains him. They crack each other up and spend hours together on silly games. She helps to look after him and is very mindful of his needs. And, having a little brother means that she has someone to play with and to keep her occupied -- which reduces the amount of time that she spends wandering around after us claiming to be bored (which still happens sometimes, but not as much). The two of them are such an amazing pair -- and I feel like they needed each other.
Alden has been such a joyful baby -- and has really completed our family. I think his first year of life was such a blur, that I didn't get to reflect on that much. But, I really feel it now. I love watching him saunter around, his hands trailing behind him, his goofy looks on his face. He has such strong opinions and is a skilled communicator for one who only says about a dozen words. He's just passed the 18 month mark -- I can't believe he's 18 months already. Although, he's the size of a two and a half year old and would like to be treated like a full-on adult. Don't grow up too fast, little one. We love you so.