Team Vandrovec is on the verge of making a couple of roster moves, bringing two babies – one boy and one girl – into the fold sometime in the next three weeks. It’s going to get weird. Actually, it already has.
My wife, labeled high risk because of issues with a previous set of twins (I’ll spare you the internal details), is being required to stay in the hospital until she delivers via c-section sometime on or before Dec. 10. That means I’m running the show, although it feels more like stumbling than running. I’m swamped at work due to an extended football-basketball overlap, our oldest daughter has time off from school, it’s a holiday weekend, the little one is out of sorts because mom isn’t around, my narcolepsy is acting up. It’s all about survival.
Except, I’m finding, kids don’t work that way – at least mine don’t. The oldest is upset because mom, her Alpha and Omega, isn’t at home, and that makes the youngest one upset even though she really does like me just as much as mom most of the time. Apparently, you can’t just plow through tasks, toss them a peanut butter sandwich and some blocks and move on to the next one. You have to explain things and consider feelings, stuff that doesn’t come naturally for me.
I’m all for that when life is “normal.” But in times of stress? Get over it, kid. Except that’s frowned upon in 2012, leaving me conflicted. To use a sports analogy, we’ve learned that there’s nothing wrong with giving athletes water during practice. In fact, it’s healthy and necessary. But they also need to exert themselves long enough to be able to prepare their minds and their bodies for competition. Kids should learn how to persevere especially within the confines of a caring environment and in matters that aren’t life or death. (Say, forgetting a favorite blanket at home.)
So we’re fighting that battle and there’s another looming: The changing family dynamic. The first arrival required personal sacrifice – no more just doing whatever, whenever. It was an adjustment, no question, but it (eventually) took. Bringing home a second child meant big changes for big sister, too, and she had gotten pretty used to running the roost after six years as an only child. We’ve had to find ways to split our attention or focus our attention depending on the situation, a task complicated by the fact that the toddler has started doing goofy toddler things and the big one (I can’t remember all of their names) is starting to branch out in a way that’s appropriate for her age. It’s gone … well, it’s a work in progress.
And now two more. Honestly, I’m not nearly as concerned about all the dirty diapers and late-night feedings as I am about the interpersonal relationships. Could that have sounded any more scientific? Maybe that’s part of my problem – this stuff isn’t male enough. Maybe adding a boy into the mix will help even things out. Or perhaps I need to put even more brain sweat into it. That’s the rub right now – all the critical thought and maintenance work that goes into raising an ever-changing family. It gets to be a grind, especially after a long day at work or during a difficult pregnancy. How about we just cuddle or color instead of having a power struggle over why you won’t eat the cheese on your pizza?
Don’t get me wrong – parenting is fun and rewarding and not to be taken for granted, something that hit home for us after losing a child due to complications from prematurity. But it’s also complicated and confusing and downright hard in large part because the rules and the kids are ever changing. It’s too bad humans haven’t evolved physically in a way to assist with that. I could really use an extra arm.