No-one really considers two as being a milestone birthday. There’s obviously baby’s first birthday which coincides with the celebration of so many other firsts. There’s five, when your baby goes to school (sob), 11 when they start at senior school (eek), 17 when they can drive (yes!), 18 when they can vote and (officially) drink (hide the gin), and 21 (well, no-one remembers why any more, but everyone likes a good party). So, why does two feel like such a milestone age to me?
Here are my top five reasons to celebrate turning two
- Two is so much more fun than one
Now that Gabriella is two, it feels like we’ve turned a bit of a corner. She’s suddenly able to talk, do so many more things on her own, and she even goes out of her way to make us laugh (well, that’s if you think it’s funny to lick our faces. She didn’t get that from me). Now that she understands so much more, I’m also able to solve 70% of the issues that cause tantrums. For example, I can ask her where it hurts and she can show me. I can ask if she prefers to stay home or go out. I’m not saying it’s suddenly a walk in the park, but it definitely suddenly feels a lot easier and more fun. While this time last year I was three months pregnant, returning to full-time work and constantly bending down to help her learn to walk, this year she’s dancing around and singing happy birthday to herself.
- We’re no longer part of the ‘two under two’ club
Gabriella was only 18 months when we had Raphaël in April and there’s a reason why people look in horror or pity when you say you’ve got two under two. It’s bloody hard work, and the first 3-4 months were much tougher than I expected. I had days when I’d take Gabriella to the park, and it would coincide with me needing to feed our newborn (I forgot how often they ate!) so I’d end up with the baby and bottle in one arm, while trying to coax the toddler down from a climbing frame with the other before she hurled herself six feet to her death. Six months on, I’m still chasing our toddler round the house to put on her nappy/shoes/coat, but at least I can put down the baby and shove a Sophie la Giraffe in his hand to keep him entertained.
- I can move out of ‘survival’ mode
All new mums are sleep deprived, but when you’ve got two under two who are both still waking up in the night and you get no break in the day, it can wear you down beyond belief. I swear I’ve aged ten years. Those early weeks and months were all about getting through the day and keeping them both fed and alive. This was the period when everything I said I’d never do as a parent went straight out the window. Want to watch the iPad while you’re eating your 5th meal in a row of pasta and cheese? No problem. Want a biscuit for getting back in your buggy so I can peg it home to feed your screaming brother? Here, have two. Like I said, survival.
- We can enjoy the here and now
The first three months of my son’s life went by in a blur. I fed him, I cuddled him (briefly), I ran after his sister. I bathed them (sporadically), changed both their nappies (too often) and put them both to bed. And all the while, I kept focusing on the future. Once he’s three months, he’ll be sleeping better. When he’s six months he’ll be sitting up and able to interact more. Well he’s nearly six months and doing neither yet, but we’re making progress. The truth is, I regret not having the time to just sit and snuggle my newborn. To nuzzle into his gorgeous soft neck or smell his head. All of this was done in the middle of the night when I had my only quiet moments with him. I often looked on in envy at my NCT friends who’d left a bigger gap between their kids so had their eldest in nursery or school. While they were having their lazy coffee mornings and baby sensory classes, I was stuck indoors on my own feeling pretty isolated (don’t get me wrong, I really do like them! I just wish I could have joined them now and again). But now we’ve reached ages two and six months, things suddenly feel a lot easier. I’m actually thankful I’m getting this extra time with my toddler and I now couldn’t imagine how I’d fill my days without her to keep us company and make us laugh. Instead of thinking of next week or next year, I’m actually enjoying helping her make poo shapes out of play doh.
- Light at the end of the tunnel
Now that I’ve mastered the ‘go’ and ‘no-go’ zones for the days on my own with two in tow, life’s suddenly more fun and I can already see the benefits of such a small age gap. I haven’t witnessed the jealousy that often accompanies the arrival of a new sibling, my daughter already enjoys playing with her brother (they do a great rendition of ‘row, row, row your boat’ together) and Raphaël has a smile reserved exclusively for his big sister. As they grow up, being just one school year apart means we’ll eventually be able to do so many more things together as a family without having to divide and conquer. Right now, I’m loving hearing Gabriella come out with new words every day and it’s becoming easier to keep her safe AND entertained. Of course this coincides with the time I now need to dedicate to weaning Raphaël, helping him sit up, crawl and walk. There’s a phase for everything as they say, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The terrible twos?
Over the past week I’ve had a number of comments about how my daughter’s now entering the ‘terrible twos’ but I can hand on heart say that I’m actually looking forward to this next stage. Maybe this little bubble will burst next month, and maybe I’ll be writing about how much it sucks to be taming a tantruming two year old while trying to wipe splattered carrot purée out of my hair. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt since becoming a mum of two in such a short timeframe, it’s that everything is a phase. And if I can survive two under two in a sweltering two bedroom flat in the summer on next to no sleep, I can get through anything.
What’s the age gap between your siblings and how did you survive those early days with a newborn? I’d love to hear from you.