est. 2008

life with two kids (or how I have not slept through the night in 5 months)

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories





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What better time to update you on our life with two kids than after having Matt away last week?

We made it, albeit narrowly since Daphne came down with tonsillitis (threw up in a parking lot + got a fever of 102.5) the last night on our own. I even had help with the kids and I’m exhausted… that’s just what life is like right now. It’s a non-stop adventure of laundry, cleaning up toys, getting dirty, taking baths all while playing hide and seek. I love our children, but being a parent is a ton of work.

I remember a conversation with some of my cousins where we talked about what was hardest : going from 0 to 1 child, 1 to 2 or 2 to 3. There is no denying that having one child is a huge adjustment. It’s so hard to go from having a social life to not having one. It’s hard to be selfless, go without sleep and rearrange how you travel anywhere according to your babies sleep schedule. So as I stood there talking (from my perspective as a parent of 1) I advocated that it was the harder step. However, now I have two and I’ve changed my position. With one you could trade off for some free time, with two there’s always a need for more help. One is in the bath, the other is drawing lollipops on her arms with pen. One is taking a morning nap, the other is running around the backyard chasing chickens. If you even reach that magical place of two kids napping at once… there is so much pressure to use your time wisely you can’t even decide what to (I laid on a blanket in the backyard and then made and ate cookie dough).

We are lead to believe that living in our separate houses – cities away from family and with all of the modern conveniences we can afford – we can also become parents and happily raise children. It’s just not true. Being on your own as a parent is one of the hardest things you can do. It’s hard if you stay at home watching the kids all day and it’s hard if you don’t have anyone from the outside helping you it’s hard. Children insulate you and cause you to question all of your previous decision making abilities, accomplishments and goals. You lose perspective because all you can see is where you are, trying to make it through each day.

So this year has been an adjustment, as you can tell. The last three months of May, June and July have largely been a blur. It’s the time that I started shooting weddings again and when Matt and I started to tread water and look for the next lifeboat to pick us up, the closest shoreline or even a piece of floating debris to climb on to and get a break. That’s what getting out of the newborn phase feels like while having a two year old (actually I think it feels like that regardless of the two year old). We don’t have a schedule and Dax has never slept through the night… so, yes. There’s that. We haven’t slept through the night in the past 5 months.

Dax is a great baby. He is so happy and relaxed – or at least he was until he started to get teeth. The drooling, chewing and overall teething started around May and we have been waiting for two months for them to pop through… the first two broke the surface last week! Maybe it was his early teething, our lack of sleep or an overall parenting fog… but we forgot to do any sleep training with him. haha. Seriously who are we? We forgot. Now we are trying to make up for lost time and it’s so hard. If you aren’t sure what I’m saying, basically we never helped him transition out of the “I’ll get up with you whenever you wake up in the middle of the night” days and so he’s still expecting us to get up.

So why do I feel like I need to keep telling you that having kids is a lot of work? It’s not to make you feel bad, or convince you to not have them, or to judge me for still getting up with my baby or soon letting him cry and go to sleep. I think I keep saying it because pictures tell a different story. Instagram tells a different story. Life is not always what we present it to be, and we have to be intentional about what it is we are saying. So if you aren’t perfect, if things are hard, if you forgot to do something like I did… you aren’t alone. My imperfect life is playing out right alongside yours and in my book it’s okay to ask for help, to admit that you still actually enjoy working and to find a way to give 100% to your kids by taking time to recharge yourself.

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