In the midst of a really bad storm, you can be so focused on trying to remain calm and get everybody through it alive that it’s not until well after the storm has passed that you think–holy shit! How did I survive that? That’s exactly how I feel about the two under two years.

The Hardest Things About Having 2 Under 2

1. If you had a C-section, you can’t pick up your toddler for six weeks. And we’re not just talking about fun romps around the house. We’re talking about getting them out of daycare and into the car, carrying them up and down the stairs, lifting them onto the changing table, and putting them in their crib. Obviously you are going to have to pick up your toddler. But not without some shooting abdominal pains and fears of something really horrible happening to your midsection.

2. You can’t nurse your newborn without worrying your 16-month old is going to fling himself into the fireplace to get your attention. This is a rational fear because it’s what your toddler threatens to do every time his arch enemy finally gets a good latch.

3. Your toddler is still too young to be left in a room alone. But he can’t sit still. If you are nursing, you will rarely have the luxury of doing it sitting down.

Isaiah, the day we brought his newborn brother home
Isaiah, the day we brought his newborn brother home

4. There is a high possibility that you will open the front door with one boob hanging out of your nursing tank.

5. Your toddler has not yet learned how to wait for anything, especially food. Meals are prepared under a blizzard of wails. And when your newborn starts eating solid food, you have to feed it to him. Every single spoonful. Which means the days of feeding the toddler cheese chunks while you shove some organic “chickn” nuggets into the oven are over. You are strapped to your newborn’s highchair, so you better have dinner ready for your toddler, too.

6. You live on a diet of Cheerios, “chickn” nuggets, apple sauce and beer. No wonder you look like shit.

7. Your newborn thinks his Earth’s Best Split Pea Soup puree tastes fine straight from the fridge. Because that’s all he knows. You will carry immense guilt for this.

8. The aftermath of every meal will make you want to cry. Except you’re too exhausted to cry.

9. You will not have time to fix yourself a glass of water. Which is probably good since going to the bathroom is also out of the question. (Especially when your only bathroom is on the second floor.)

10. A young toddler may or may not have the attention span to watch more than five minutes of television. This young toddler may also be unsteady on his feet and runs a reasonable risk of emergency-room grade damage to himself at every corner.

11. Meanwhile, your newborn does not take to the bouncy seat, swing, or other expensive vibrating contraption happily. He may tolerate it for a couple of minutes. Then he’ll be demonstrating the strength of his lungs.

12. There’s nothing like a screaming newborn to put your toddler in the mood to destroy something.

13. Getting in and out of the car, especially in the winter, is enough to give any sleep-deprived mother agoraphobia. Unfortunately, staying at home with two young children all day, no matter how tired you are, is probably the very worst move you can make.

14. Getting into the house, especially when that involves scaling 20 steep and narrow stairs, is the bane of your existence. Each week is a new tactic. Most fail. Once you finally move to a new house, you almost wish you had video of those afternoons so you could cry for yourself.

15. The biggest goal of every weekend is getting both kids to sleep at the same time. It rarely happens, so you and your husband fall into a pattern of tag-team napping, all day long. This goes on for months.

16. Despite all of this, your husband still expects “the good stuff.” He will not get “the good stuff” and probably not “the mediocre stuff” either.

17. You wonder if having twins would have been easier because at least then people would drop off hot covered dishes and make sympathetic remarks at the grocery store. (Who am I kidding. I don’t take both of them to the grocery store.)

18. When other moms of toddlers ask what it’s like having two under two because they are thinking of getting pregnant again, you launch into an incoherent monologue about the stairs, the godforsaken stairs. Those moms avoid you.

19. Living in sickening fear that your toddler will kill the newborn. You see the news headlines: “Toddler climbs into crib and suffocates newborn.” “Toddler strikes newborn on head with Toy Story sippy cup.” “Toddler feeds organic hot dog to newborn, who chokes while mother is in upstairs bathroom.” You realize you probably need professional help

20. The heart-aching love you have for both of them as you grasp on to their last hints of baby-ness, forgetting all but #20 of the hardest things about having 2 under 2.

I love the idea of an Easter Tree as a way to celebrate spring and the forthcoming holiday of birth/rebirth, and I decided to make one this year with my almost three-year-old.

For our tree base, Isaiah and I headed outside and clipped four branches, which we bound together at the base with pipe cleaners. We found a bright colored vase in the basement, along with two packages of tiny Easter ornaments I bought a couple of years ago but never knew what to do with.


Hanging birds, bunnies and chicks on the Easter Tree


Isaiah was super focused about helping me hang chicks, eggs, and bunnies on the branches.

Toddler hanging Easter Tree ornaments


Easter tree bird

It was just the motivation I needed to freshen up our mantle.

Easter Tree on mantle




When we went to get our little Judah Buddha this morning, he greeted us with his normal huge smile. And he was covered in vomit. Dried vomit.

Which means he threw up sometime in the night, all alone, with no one to help him. And then he went back to sleep on his vomit-covered pillow. Needless to say, I felt horrible.

After my husband and I did the double-team cleanup, I asked him, “Do you feel guilty for not hearing him last night?” And he said, “No. He was smiling.”

I still felt guilty. So I called my mom. “Oh that happens,” she said. “If he really wanted you to hear him, he would’ve cried loud enough. He was probably tired and just went back to sleep.”

Ahh, that did the trick to abolish my mommy guilt. Try it–all you have to do is ring up a Baby Boomer to get a little dose of guilt squashing. And if that doesn’t work, call someone your grandma’s age.

Which makes me recall the time I asked my grandma how she found the time to make dinner with two toddler sons.

“Oh I just put them in their playpen out in the backyard,” she said.

“But Grandma, you lived  in Rochester, NY. It was probably freezing.”

“They were wearing jackets.”

My brother was in jail when he found out our father had died.

Earlier that year, my family discovered the depths of my brother’s drug addiction were much, much worse than any of us imagined. Once I convinced my father I was not exaggerating, he stepped in and became my brother’s confidante. His only confidante. And then he died.

Having a family member struggle with the abyss of drug addiction has been one of the most counter-intuitive, emotionally complex things I’ve ever gone through.

All the things you’d think were right (go down and put his ass in rehab, get him away from his posse and shower him with love, give him a job and an opportunity to see beyond his situation) do not work. (We’ve tried them.) And so to some degree you give up. You don’t give up hope, but you wait for the person to decide they have “hit bottom” and are finally ready to end the nightmare.

At my father’s funeral, my brother told me he had not yet hit bottom.

This experience led me to the book Beautiful Boy: A father’s journey through his son’s addictions by David Sheff. Sheff learns of his son Nic’s addiction to methamphetamine during Nic’s freshman year at college. Which is a far cry from what he told his father at age seventeen, admitting to using “some drugs ‘like everyone,’ ‘just pot,’ and only ‘once in awhile.’

Now that he knows the truth, Sheff laments, “I learn that now that he is over eighteen, I cannot commit him…Had I seen this coming, I would have forced Nic into rehab when I still could have made the decision for him.”

His son snowed him, just like my brother has been snowing my family for ten years. Just like our children may one day try to snow us.

“An alcoholic will steal your wallet and lie about it. An addict will steal your wallet and then help you look for it.” — from Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

I’ve felt heartache, fear, disappointment, regret and sadness that I couldn’t/didn’t/can’t save my brother from his personal hell. But most of all, I’ve felt anger. Raging, ugly anger. Anger over his lies, anger that he hasn’t taken all the opportunities given to him to live a new life, anger that he’d allow himself to get to a place unimaginably low, and disgust over his lifestyle, the smell of his clothes, the scars on his hands.

But we all know anger is a mask for sadness.

And when I allow myself to stop and really feel what I feel over this person I adore, what rises to the surface is an overwhelming, frantic grief and profound loss.

And when I think about what my mother must be feeling, my heart nearly explodes. She doesn’t speak of her true feelings very often, but she once confessed to driving up and down the drug district of her town looking for him, expecting to see her son lying in a heap on the side of the road. Thinking of myself in her situation, searching for my own son on the side of the road, is almost too much to handle. Too far to let my mind go.

My young sons have not yet experienced tragedy, victimhood, true fear. They don’t know about domestic violence, child predators, suicide, going broke or divorce. They don’t even know about playground teasing, not fitting in, being too small or too big or not good enough in the eyes of their peers. Or whatever other early events that might lead a person to drugs.

But their perfect view of life will get shaken eventually. And I pray like hell I can give them the set of tools to handle those emotions without turning to drugs. Which isn’t to say they won’t do it anyway.

“The meaning I have come to is that Nic on drugs is not Nic but an apparition. Nic high is a ghost, a specter, and when he is high my lovely son is dormant, pushed aside, hidden away and buried in some inaccessible corner of his consciousness…Nic is in there and he–Nic, his essence, his self–is whole, safe and protected…[Yet] Nic may never again emerge.”

I don’t know if my brother will ever again emerge, yet with each detox and promise to get clean comes the hope that this horrible chapter is finally over, and that the long journey of true recovery and sobriety, can finally begin. I accept that I cannot control when or if this ever happens.

But what about what I can influence? What about my own children?

Some children will experiment a handful of times and then move on (like me). While for others, it’s a gateway to the unimaginable. How will you know which is which?

David Sheff’s child was gifted, bright, loved by all, and got into Berkeley. So what if he smoked pot once in awhile? (Except that, of course, it was so much more than pot.) Sheff took all the reasonable steps–he spent more time with his son, they went through counseling, he sent his son out of the country for the summer.

I think back to high school, and the kids who got sent away to military school or something just as extreme-sounding. Their parents took drastic measures to remove their children from harm. Are those kids better off now?

What would I do? What will you do?