You there . . . with the babies . . . a brand-new one and one that seemed so small just five minutes ago? I see you. And I hear your struggle. Oh my goodness, do I hear you. You see, my kids are 19 months apart (19.5 months if you want to get technical), and the beginning was madness. Sheer madness. I was constantly overwhelmed by what I deemed a mess of my own making (I had wanted two kids close together, hadn't I?), and I remember asking myself all the time: "How do people do this? So many people have two kids, why am I unable to manage?" But the truth is, I was able to manage. And the other truth was, it was hard for everybody. So the comparisons were a waste of time, and inaccurate at any rate.
As everyone says, it takes time, which is the least helpful thing ever when you're in it deep (and with two under 2, you are indeed in it deep), but it's true. A friend who has a 19-month-old texted me this morning to tell me she doesn't know how I did it; tending to the crazy tantrums and whims of a toddler, while handling the incessant needs of a newborn. And I laughed. Because I don't really remember how I did it either. I do remember a lot of sweating. And a lot of crying. From all of us.
And now that my youngest is 1, I can tell you that there is a reward for all the literal blood sweat and tears, and it is so, so worth it. The kids play together. Like, together on purpose. And they make each other laugh. And they console one another. And sometimes . . . they even share.
So you may be in over your head for a few weeks, or months, or like me — the better part of a year. And frankly, to some degree, I believe I'll be in over my head until the kids leave the house, and maybe even for a time after that. Motherhood is hard. Mothering two is not twice as hard. It's infinitely harder, which when factoring in the starting point, is to say: infinity times infinity hard. So if both of those kids are alive at the end of the day? You have done it. Because accomplishments in new-mom terms are things like survival, remembering to eat at least a couple times a day, and remaining on speaking terms with your husband more days than not.
Celebrate every small victory, and try to let the perceived failures wash over you, because I can promise that a year from now, you won't remember the millions of tiny ways you didn't stack up against some imagined ideal of mom perfection. You will, however, stare at your life in a strange mix of pride and astonishment, asking, "How did we do it?" But also: "How in the world did we get so incredibly blessed?"
And when you get momentary glimpses of that feeling, soak it up. Because the exhaustion is real, the fear is real, the guilt is oh so real, but the moments — fleeting though they may sometimes be — of absolute unparalleled joy? Those are real too.