The casualties of four

Written by: Josh Conley

When I told a neighbor of ours (with two kids) we were about to have our second, instead of the perfunctory ‘Congrats!’ his response instead was, “Well, take it from me, life is going to be miserable for about the next two years.”

Gee, thanks, buddy! What he lacked in tact, though, he has made up for in experience, and now a few months into this endeavor, I’m starting to think he had a point.

It’s actually to the point now where I see people out with one kid, and my first thought is: You wimps! Yeah yeah, you’re tired, I get it, but you don’t know how good you have it! You should wake up singing to your fortunes, writing odes to yourselves. You don’t know how good you have it.

Of course, by the same token, I see families that literally spill out of mini-vans and I marvel at their fortitude. It’s never easy, and I’m not belittling parents of one at all. I’m just still a bit shell-shocked at how much harder it is to have two.

With Bub, it was not such a big deal. We didn’t feel bad asking people to watch him—how much ruckus could he possibly mastermind? Same reason we also didn’t really think too much about asking each other to watch him.

Well…a very concrete example of how life has changed is the innocent bystander known as our backseat. Now occupied by two car seats, it never knew what hit it. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually ridden in the back seat, honestly. I hear there are retractable cup holders. I miss them already.

But this is merely a symptom of a much larger problem: we are a divided people. Family outings (risky and wildly unpredictable as they are) notwithstanding, picking up a relative at the airport is now a thing. We can’t all go anymore—we won’t fit. So it immediately becomes a question of which child do you want to take?

It’s the same with most errands. Even when my wife goes for coffee in the morning, she takes Bub, and I roll the dice on some half-peace with HP. A walk to the playground with both sounds like a reasonable enough request. The problem is that when the stroller stops, HP wakes up shortly thereafter, cutting into Bub’s primo seesaw time, and cutting me out of playing with him at all.

So it’s just easier in most scenarios to take one kid. It’s also asking a lot to leave both. There are two problems I see with this. Number one, you always have a kid, so no time to yourself. But number two we’re now learning, is that when we do have some fleeting, tired quiet moments, we need them for ourselves, which leaves us no quality time together.

Maybe our neighbor was right. His silver lining was that things will get better—in about two years. We’re learning to ask for help. It’s tough without family in town. But we need to reinstitute date night. We got out once a couple weeks ago for a quick sushi dinner, got back before bed time. Door to door, the entire experience was over in two hours. Two blissful, off-duty, carefree hours. How do we get some more of that?

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