In just over a week my wife will abandon her stint on maternity leave and return to the wild workaday world.
This terrifies me to no end.
The terror stems from simple mathematics, really. Basically, once my wife leaves, there will be two of them and one of me. I will be outnumbered. Outmanned. Outgunned. Carefully honed daily routines for my daughter and I will be forever rendered useless. Delicate strategies for household sanity will be shattered. Uncertainty will hang over my house like a heavy cloud each and every day.
And I will be in the center of it all, spinning these baby plates as fast as I can muster.
One of these so-called baby plates is my 2-year-old daughter, Audrey. And as you might imagine she has a long list of daily needs:
- Healthy Eating
- Midday Nap (a.k.a. Daddy’s Happy Time)
- Constructive Play
- Book Reading
- General Upkeep/Hygiene
On top of all that, I’ve got to keep her from watching too much TV, finding the location of the damn iPad, drawing on the furniture, getting scratched by the cats, exploring first-hand how electricity works, etc. It’s a lot of work.
The other baby plate is my nearly 3-month-old son, Zachary. And his set of needs is quite different:
- Frequent Napping
- Frequent Eating
- Frequent Burping
- Frequent Diaper Changing
He’s also quite the high-strung guy. What this means is that he will literally act as if he is on fire if the following needs are not met POST HASTE:
- Food in the mouth the second he wakes up
- Initiation of Sleep Procedures the second he decides he’s sleepy
- Removal of at least sixteen pockets of ingested gas via burp after each and every feeding
- Poop in the pants! Poop in the pants!
So on one hand I have a child with fairly sophisticated needs and a capacity for getting into trouble. On the other hand I have a child with simple needs and a capacity for exploding like a confetti-filled atom bomb at a moment’s notice. Mesh well their needs do not, and I’m not at all sure what to do about it.
When I put Zachary down for one of his frequent naps, what becomes of Audrey? Do I trust her to not put herself or the house in danger? Or replace fear with shame by plopping her in front of the boob tube?
What about Audrey’s nap too? It can take a while to get her down, with typically at least thirty minutes of book reading, tooth brushing, etc. Do I leave Zachary in the swing and cross my fingers that his anger doesn’t rise up and burn down the house? Or do I make him a part of Audrey’s routine, taking the risk that his cries might derail her ability to cool off for a few hours?
And then there’s me. What about my well-being? Will I find time for myself during the day anymore? Will I be able to keep these two plates spinning long enough to keep my own going as well? And…
Will this stay-at-home dad still enjoy his homebound status when the day is through?
One way or another, I’m going to find out very soon.
Heaven help me.