Someone asked me the other day if things are getting "back to normal yet?" They were referring to our adjustment to being a family of 5 now, and they asked with the expectation that I say "yes." As though it has been long enough (Lincoln is 2 months old, by the way) and I should have my household back in order by now. I did that thing where I freeze momentarily, stuck between the thing I want to say and the thing I probably should say. I probably should have said something generic like "we're working it out," or "it's certainly an adjustment." What was rattling around in my brain was this:
I just brought a new human into the world! He wasn't here...now he is! There is an entirely new human being living in my house now and we're all trying to figure out how that's gonna change things around here. I don't expect to EVER be "back to normal!" That "normal" is gone and now we're having to find and create a new one. That's gonna take some time!
New babies change everything! Your first one changes your perspectives on everything ever. Every one after that changes the way that you do life as a family. There's always so much empty talk about sibling regression once a new sibling arrives. Those things are real, at least in my house. Potty trained before the arrival of a new sibling=wetting the bed every night for weeks after his/her arrival. Sleeping through the night for months before a new sibling=waking and screaming constantly after his/her arrival. But these reactions are more than just things we complain about to our friends over coffee. These "regressions" are how these poor kids are coping with the way their worlds have changed dramatically, literally over night. We literally bring a new person into their homes who screams, demands our attention, gets away with everything they don't and whose very presence requires new expectations of them and new rules to follow. New routines, new schedules, new, new, new, new, new! It's overwhelming for us as parents, as adults. How and why do we expect anything more than what we get from our older children? And why do we feel, as mothers, like we have to have everything together so soon after producing life?
No matter who you are, or how many times you've done it, bringing a new baby home is hard. It's exhausting physically and emotionally--for everyone in the household. And there is no statute of limitations on the adjustment period. It's as long as it needs to be, and there's no speeding it up.
...I guess maybe that should be my response next time someone asks how we're doing...