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A wolf, a sheep, and a basket of cabbage

Do you know this puzzle? A man has a wolf, a sheep, and a basket of cabbage and he has to transport all of them across a river but his boat is only big enough for himself and one of the items at a time. He’s got quite the dilemma.

He can’t leave the wolf and the sheep because the wolf will eat the sheep. And he can’t leave the sheep and the cabbage because the sheep will eat the cabbage. But all of them have to get across somehow without anything being lost or harmed in the process.

That’s sometimes what this momming of two kids feel like.

I never know whose needs should be met first.

Last night, Dan worked late so it was my first attempt at handling bedtime with both of them. Bath was easy, relatively speaking. But bedtime, actually getting Joshua into the bed, reduced me nearly to tears.

The evenings are Emma’s witching hours. By about 8:30 she’s DONE WITH ALL THE THINGS. She wants to be swaddled and nursed until she falls asleep (which might not be for another hour and a half some nights).

Joshua wants books at 8:00, followed by prayers, followed by one of us to sit with him for a minute or two while he winds down. Then he’ll say “Mama close the door” and that’s the cue that he’s ready for sleep.

Emma can make it through one book, maybe two, but by prayers it’s like we’ve called an old priest and a young priest and they’re on the way with the good book and some Holy Water. There is no sitting quietly with him with her in the room. And he just doesn’t understand.

I felt like such an awful mother last night. She was screaming but he’d grabbed on to my arm and refused to let go and then he started shoving a stuffed Cat in the Hat in my face as a way to make me stay with him. And I just kept trying to leave.

He acted out as a way to get my attention before bed and all I could say was “I’ve got to go put baby sister to bed. Please let me go put baby sister to bed.” All he wanted was me and all she needed was me and all I could think about was how high, exactly, my blood pressure was at that moment. Because good God his room became a furnace awfully quick.

He said “mama don’t cry. I made you sad. Don’t be mean. Be happy!” And all I could say was “I have to go” while trying not to cry harder because of his consolations (which are, quite honestly another post for another day and an area where I think I’m setting him up for therapy).

Some say that we should always put on our own oxygen masks before assisting others. In that case, my need to pee or flee trumps their need for whatever it is they need right then.

Others say take care of Joshua’s needs before Emma’s because he’s able to remember and putting him off will cause resentment. Oh, god, resentment. Do I have enough material to write about that for a month. Dare I say it, but Emma’s existence alone seems to be causing resentment so shouldn’t he be learning about waiting and delayed gratification?

The part of me that is set on fire by the sound of the Angry Cry says Emma’s needs come first. Otherwise she’s a screaming ball of fury with her heart set on burning my soul out of my body with her baby rage.

It’s quite the conundrum, and it’s causing me more than a little anxiety.

So, moms of more than one, how do you handle this sort of thing?

Wolf, sheep, or cabbage first?

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Sleep is a thing people still do, right? - Not Super Just Mom

Sunday 23rd of September 2012

[...] where momming two is hard. Just like I’ve said before. I never know whose needs come first. When both of their needs are physical, who gets [...]

Date night: Just do it.

Saturday 30th of June 2012

[...] We could just get a sitter for Joshua and take Emma with us. She would be free. She would probably sleep the whole time. I only have a teeny, tiny emergency stash in the freezer. We cloth diaper and that will be a pain in the ass for a sitter. Bath and bedtime with both of them is a nightmare. [...]

Julie S.

Friday 29th of June 2012

My husband works 12+ hour days 75% of the year. And when Kenley was little? I was reduced to tears over the very same thing. My mom told me "Put the important needs first." Since I was nursing Kenley, Brayden just had to fall in our routine most of the time. Bedtime was the hardest. He didn't NEED one more book as much as she needed to eat from me. I was solely providing her nourishment so that need came first, as hard as it was. Eventually, Brayden got over it. We did a NEW routine so that he didn't feel left out. And when K slept during the day, I tried my hardest to ignore laundry/dishes for 15 minutes so we could play together uninterrupted.

It is a hard balance to find. And yes, there will always be mom guilt. But it won't last. :)


Tuesday 26th of June 2012

It's a crap shoot basically. For us, before Cole was mobile and/or had a steady bedtime, I put him in a rock n play or something while I did bath, stories and brushed teeth with Chessa, then I went to Cole. When he started going down around 7 or 7:30 and her at 8, I told her she was a big girl and could play quietly in her room while I gave Cole a bottle and rocked him to sleep. Now they are closer in schedule, so I do baths together, put them both in PJs, then Cole goes to bed and I read Chessa a book and put her to bed, negotiate another story, a song, a hug or seventeen kisses to get her to not yell and cry and wake up her sleeping brother and THEN i drink a large glass of wine. My point is that A) for us as soon as I found a routine it lasted about two months before it needed to be changed. and B) there's only so much of you to go around. Don't beat yourself up for that. Your kids are fine, you're doing great. Even if some nights there's enough screaming and crying to send you for the nearest hill.


Monday 25th of June 2012

If I have to do bedtime by myself, timing depends on when the 8mo needs to eat. Sometimes she eats first and the 3yo stays up a few minutes later than usual. Sometimes I have to cut the 3yo's routine short due to screeching that could cause the neighbors to call the police or DCF. (Mostly, the 8mo is in her bouncer for big sister's bedtime.) It comes out about even how many times the 3yo has to sacrifice her routine versus getting to stay up late with an extra snack, so she's become pretty understanding. There is only one mama who must love on two fabulous girls and sometimes it just can't happen at the same time.

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