I’m so screwed.
I feel completely competent as a stay-at-home parent, sometimes. (Some rare and brief times, but some times all the same.) Last Wednesday, for example, I was lifting a tribe of toddlers, my two-year old Boobaby included, up to the playground high bar intended for teenagers, then letting them fall and catching them just before they landed in a heap of broken legs and collarbones. Scream, giggle, repeat. And — no injuries! After two years, I told myself, I’ve got this dad thing down.
Then a playground mom joined us, one of those parents who makes everything look easy despite having three kids under 5. Her 2-year old girl wanted up on the bar, too, and I gleefully realized that there was no way she’d be able to manage it with her baby in a sling. So, expert and chivalrous dad that I imagined myself to be, I offered to perform the lifting services.
“Oh, no need, I’ve got it,” she replied kindly, hoisting her joyful little kid around the bulky Baby Bjorn and adding a little spin just for good measure. Then mom herself swung a bit from the high bar, landing with a pirouette and kick, to the delight of all the kids. My formerly rapt audience of toddlers immediately began emulating her ballet moves.
As I watched, the mom of three skipped cheerfully away up the stairs, supplying boob, bottle, and juice box as she balanced infant and toddlers in what seemed a round half-dozen arms. My spirits sank.
I feel momentarily successful as a parent and house-husband maybe three times a week at the outside. On those rare occasions, Boobaby has been fed, the house would be theoretically presentable to theoretical guests, the laundry is done enough so we have a few days of clean underthings, and dinner is either planned or given up on. I’ve even been known to have a few minutes to read the Sunday paper, although not usually until Wednesday or so.
To sum up: with one kid — moreover, a toddler who can play independently for 20 minutes — I’m scraping by. My time outweighs my responsibilities — but only by the barest margin.
But when I have two kids to handle? When our family is joined by another infant, a new nap schedule, and gallons of pumped milk to defrost and manage? I haven’t the faintest clue in the world how I’m going to handle that.
All I know for sure is that I will. Somehow.
Photo graciously provided by colodio, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved