Yesterday, we had a good day. Julia asked to paint some boxes during Margaret's nap time, which may not seem like a big deal, but for the kid who has completely given up art this year (aside from a sticker addiction), it was positively shocking. I set her up on the deck with paint and some boxes from Amazon, and she got started. "Mommy, can I mix these colors?" I started to say no, and then I kicked myself and said, "of course you can." (Why, Meg? Because cleaning paint cups is that important?) And she was so, so happy. "Look, I'm making orange! And purple!"
Box painting complete, and Margaret awake from her nap, we went to Martin Park, which has long been one of Julia's favorite spots. Margaret has recently discovered playgrounds, and Julia is old enough now that I don't have to watch every second, so it seems to be an activity that works with both kiddos. Margaret climbed around and attempted death-defying slides, while I rushed around behind her and made sure she was reasonably safe. After a quick stop at the grocery store, we came home for the rest of the day, played in the sand box for the afternoon, and spent the evening playing inside.
I accomplished one tangible thing: making white chicken chili for dinner. I didn't make the phone calls I needed to. We didn't go to Costco. I didn't fold the giant basket of laundry that's been sitting in the living room for two days (though I did wash a couple more loads, so now the basket has taken on gargantuan proportions). But Julia only watched 25 minutes of television, didn't have a single meltdown, and my bottom lip felt okay at the end of the day. Let me explain. I have realized over the past 15 months that when I am frustrated, stressed, angry, I bite my bottom lip. There have been evenings where I look in the mirror and it's bright red: a visible reminder of struggles with Julia during the day. Once or twice, I've noticed a faint hint of blood.
Having two children is so much harder than I thought it would be. I adore each of my girls beyond measure, and I also feel more inadequate on a daily basis than I ever felt in my terrible teaching job, which I have always used as the barometer for "things that are hard." I think maybe I made the mistake of imagining that if I kept Julia's routine the same (music! gymnastics! lots of TV! playing with me during Margaret's naps!) that she would settle in, sometime, to the fact that Margaret is here to stay. She has moments, certainly, when she seems to love being a big sister. But mostly, she is jealous of the attention Margaret needs, and frustrated by Margaret's mobility and developing will. I think I thought that once Margaret turned one, life would start to get easier. But it hasn't.
Enter the new strategy. Do less. A lot less. Both in terms of television watching, scheduled activities, and non-child related things I want to accomplish during a day when both girls are home. This week marks the first week of the Vos Schedule 2.0 Roll Out, and I can say that things are looking positive. Julia has been deeply engaged in her play in a way I haven't seen in a long time. There have been meltdowns, but fewer. My lip hurts less. I'm sitting on the floor more, and digging in the sand, and finding art supplies, and reading books. I don't know if the past week has necessarily felt easier than those before, but I know that I feel a bit less harried, if still overwhelmed. And for now, that seems like enough.