It used to be so straightforward: feed baby, bounce baby, change diaper, change cloths, clean spit up, swaddle baby, put baby to bed, pray for sleep, feed baby... and so it went.
Easier these days? In many ways, absolutely. All 4 of us are sleeping a lot more than we did the first year of Lola and Jackson's life. The kids are on a fairly regular nap schedule which, obviously, I'm pretty happy about. And while Jackson does go through spells when he wakes up several times per night (nightmares I think), rarely does he fuss long enough for me to get out of bed. Having a working sleeping routine makes things so much easier.
Lola and Jack are also getting much better at communicating their needs. This new skill serves us all well. Jackson will walk in to the room, wait for me to look him right in the eye and then say "ball" and point back to their room. Easy enough to decipher; he wants my help to get the ball. Lola is great at letting me know when it's meal or snack time. And she's even getting good at telling me what she wants to eat. I can run down the list of options and trust that she understands her choices as she answers yes to grapes and no to ham. This makes meal time so much easier.
But there is one element of motherhood that isn't getting easier at all. Quite the opposite; it get more difficult every day. I guess that element for me is best encapsulated by what I think of as "parenting": exerting my influence and assistance when necessary, withholding it when it's important to do so. I spent the first year nurturing, loving and snuggling, hoping to build a strong bond between me and my kids. I felt like it was my responsibility to keep them in situations where they would be happy and safe and could explore their world without consequence. But that's changing as they grow into toddlers. They're learning to assert their independence and I'm learning, well trying to learn really, when to snuggle them tight and when to allow them to fall.