“How will I ever love another baby as much as I love The Professor?”
This was the question that plagued me throughout my pregnancy with Huck Finn. I had this perfect, curious, unbelievably cuddly little boy in my life already. He was funny and sweet, adventurous and tender, and he had crawled into a little space in my heart that I had no idea existed and claimed it solely as his own. He taught me about unconditional love in an instant. How was anyone else going to compare with that? Was there enough love in my heart to give to another little one?
Then, Huck was born, and in just one more instant I learned another powerful lesson. I had plenty of love. More than enough love. Heaps of love to give my two precious sons.
I just didn’t have enough hands.
I think many mothers of multiple children can relate to what I was feeling. It’s hard to imagine that the caliber of love you have for one of your children can be replicated. It’s also really, really hard to not be able to give each of your children the individual attention that you know they deserve. When you have one baby, you can let them be the center of your universe and at worst you may spoil them or neglect other people in your life for a little while. (They are usually big boys and girls, and they understand). With more than one baby, you just can’t. You cannot be in more than one place at a time. (I have tried. Trust me. It’s impossible.) You cannot spend hours nursing and napping with your newborn, because another child needs someone to Velcro his shoes, drive him to preschool, and ooh and aah over his latest Lego creation. You cannot hold the new little piece of your heart all day, because there is another piece of your heart walking around on his tiny little feet and he needs you, too. And you need him. And there’s all this love, but there just aren’t enough hands.
It has taken me more than three years to see the giant hole in my logic.
I didn’t have enough hands – that’s true. But I wasn’t looking at the right thing. I was looking at myself. I was looking at what I, individually, had to offer my children. I was focused on my responsibilities, my guilt, my paranoia and my failings. I wasn’t looking at the village.
My children have many very loving, kind, generous adults that collectively have way more than enough hands. They have their daddy, and their grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and cousins, and friends, and teachers. Some misguided aspect of myself clings to my stubborn self of responsibility and independence and it makes it appear as if I have to do it all myself. Not only is that inaccurate, it’s impossible. I don’t have enough hands, but our village does.
It’s very, very hard for me to let the village in to help, though. I was raised to take care of myself, and I take a great deal of pride in being able to do so. I was taught by my family, friends, teachers and celebrities that women can do anything and no one owes me anything. My husband and I made the joint decision for me to stay home and care for the babies while he went to the office and provided our shelter, food and clothing, and that is a decision that I take very seriously. The only thing I have to do is raise the kiddos. How could I ask for help? I shouldn’t need it. I should be able to do it on my own.
I’ll tell you a secret.
I needed help. I need help at this very moment. I can’t type, fill water bottles and admire a train layout right now. I can only do one thing. I need more hands. Since I don’t plan on super-gluing an additional set onto my body, I am going to have to figure out a way to get everything done with just the set I have. And that, unfortunately, regrettably, sadly, means that I have to ask for help. (Gulp).
I could have asked for help when Huck was born, but I was afraid. I didn’t, and don’t, know how to successfully balance independence with need, pride with humility, or trust in others with the fear of taking advantage of someone.
It’s something I’m willing to work on, though. Because I don’t have enough hands – but my village most certainly does.