Sunday, March 18, 2012

Time Out: Not a Story About Punishments

Having a kid is tough.  Your life changes.  Your relationship with your spouse changes (getting lucky takes on a much more literal meaning).  Your relationship with your friends will be tested, especially if they don't have kids of their own (or even worse if they don't like kids - and whether you know it or not, you have some of these friends).  You can kiss your circadian rhythms goodbye.  You can take a sick day from work when you have a hangover; your kids, however, don't offer a vacation plan.  No one prepares you for this, not your parents, not your friends with kids (unless you're lucky enough to be friends with a stellar fellow like me) and certainly not the waste of time parenting class that you take over the course of several weeks or for nine hours in one day before your due date (note: don't waste your time.  If you've seen the movies, you know how to breathe.  If you've seen the movies, know that nothing happens like it does in the movies - there, now you have taken the course.  Oh and your baby's stomach is the size of a golf ball when they are born.  Do what you will with that nugget of knowledge).  Yep, there is no doubt about it, being a parent changes, your life, your bowel movements...everything.

Now add one more kid to the mix and multiply everything above by two.  Yes, I know single child're life is tough too.  Ahhh, you guys are so cute.  But seriously, two kids is much tougher than I thought it would be.  You have two schedules, two personalities, two mouths to feed and two asses to wipe.  You don't get breaks like you did when it was just one.  If one is taking a nap, you are entertaining the other one.  When one needs to eat, the other needs to get a new diaper.  When one is supposed to go to bed, the other should be getting a bath.  Your older kid will probably eat dinner alone often since you will likely be putting your younger one to bed at dinner time.  If you're like me, Mrs Griswold Wanna-Be (the family bread, bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado winner) isn't home from work at normal times, so it is often if not always just me and the boys from 8 AM until everyone is fed, bathed and in bed (about 8:30 PM).  It's chaotic.  I've tried schedules, but aside from nap times I haven't been able to hold the schedules due to a myriad of reasons.  You do the best you can and hope that you haven't fucked up your kids somehow.

I was tentative to write about this.  Not for what you would think of me, but more how it would be read by Mrs Griswold Wanna-Be.  She can be a little sensitive to these things, especially when it has to do with my feelings about infants (re: our youngest before four months).  I decided I would just throw it out there in conversation and see how she took to it.  So when she came home I managed to wiggle in, and by "wiggle" I mean put out a full walk-on-egg-shells disclaimer (i.e "Now, this does't mean I don't love the little guy but...") and passively aggressively toss the topic into the ring.  After I told her how great I thought it was to be the father of just one child, even if for just a weekend, she came back saying that she felt the exact same way.  No shit, right?!?  After 14 years, she still has the ability to occasionally surprise me.

We've only been living this two child parent life for seven and a half months, but I had already forgotten what it was like to just have one kid.  What did with we do with our time way back when?  Was it as easy/hard as we thought it was?  Is there a time machine that can take us back?  Apparently there is one.  The Mrs goes out of town to visit Great Grandpa for his 90th birthday with the wee one and the big guy and I have a theme park weekend.  Granted this isn't the ideal travel back in time scenario, but it's as close as I'm going to get.

As much as I love my two boys, I'm done with kids, at least in the reproductive sense.  A third isn't even an option as far as I'm concerned.  I barely have enough time to whip up a decent meal for myself with the little time I have as is, adding another (though a solid diet choice) would be the end.   People tell me that going from one to two is much harder than from two to three, I'm not buying what they're selling.  And you shouldn't either.  You should be skeptical of anyone who tells you that garbage, and remember that misery loves company...and these folks need more friends like them.  Yeah, sure I've told Mrs Griswold Wanna-Be that I'll keep my berries from the knotting table until I'm thirty-five, however, we both know that's more for show.  If you have three or more kids, and are a stay at home, then more power to you.  My hat and what's left of my man card are off to you.  Call me a quitter.  Call me a pansy.  Just don't call me a father of three.

A weekend of just one was just what I needed.  The schedule felt so much more open.  There were no morning naps and even the afternoon nap could be skipped or pushed.  The big guy and I were able to eat dinner together.  This was probably the best part; just spending that time with him, one-on-one.  Legoland and Disneyland were great, no doubt about it.  But even there, by ourselves, there is still the crowd to deal with, the logistics of where and when we are going to eat and which lines to brave now or later.  But at home, at the table with no interruptions (aside from Curious George - yes we are those barbaric parents that allow our kids to watch TV during meals - feel free to judge away) that was a treat.  When it's the three boys, the big guy usually has to eat alone since his brother goes to bed at that time.  I feel terrible about this everyday, but like I said, I haven't mastered the art of the two kid schedule.  Frankly, I have given up on it until the wee one comes into a similar schedule as his brother and I simply don't have to worry about it anymore.

It's for reasons like that that I find having two to be so much harder.  Maybe part of it is that I am an only child so I never had to really share my time, my toys or anything else for that matter.  I suppose that all of this is just normal.  Just not my normal, or the normal that I have to compare this with.  But any way you slice it, that alone time with your kids (especially the older ones that see that they are having to share a lot of time they used to have to themselves) is priceless.  Just in this past week I feel like I am that much more back in tune with the big guy.  Just the other night he rattled off the ABC's four times in a row.  I feel like he was hung up on "C" for so long and without us really trying he just bangs it out.  It made me wonder what else I have been missing, and what's scary is that we are together all day, everyday.  Where the hell have a I been?  Was it some sort of alternate reality time out?  Who cares, I'm just glad to be back.                 

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