It Takes Two (To Kick My Ass)

So I’ve only had two weeks as a stay-at-home dad to siblings but already I’m worried I’m losing Boobaby, by degrees, to the rigors of the new job. My relationship with my older daughter becomes more strained with every baby-feeding and laundry load.

Boo in facepaint as a rabbit.

Woebegone Wabbit

Taking care of two kids (and a house and a wife) is kicking my ass, no question.

The practical side of the work is manageable, more or less — every chore fits into a day, at least according to my spreadsheet. (When in doubt, I make a spreadsheet. I had a girlfriend spreadsheet once upon a time: I’m just that geeky.)

Here’s the 8 a.m. -10 a.m. cell:

Wake up, pull laundry together, change baby, feed baby, empty dishwasher, convince Boo to wear more than an infant’s T-shirt against today’s freezing rain. Feed Boo, feed self (coffee, at least), straighten kitchen …

Nice time budget, huh?

But budgets have a way of squeezing out the little intangibles that make life just a little glorious: an hour spent sitting at a café over coffee (for me) and a cup of whipped cream (for Boo), scribbling together on pages torn off my notepad. Wandering up a muddy mountain trail looking for newts. Looking at old pictures and drawing mustaches on long-forgotten relatives.

No, these days I’m more likely to exploit plop-and-go activities that can keep Boo occupied while I change a diaper or warm a bottle: if I set down some paints, I get ten minutes. Give her my phone and I get fifteen.

I’m running nearly constantly during the day, scooping up clutter from one spot and dumping it elsewhere and doing just about the same with the baby. I haven’t taken pictures in weeks; ditto for writing.

But my system works, on balance, with a lot of rough edges. Boo’s had weepy periods these couple of days, and though bad weather and a cold contribute to her melancholy moments, our change of life wears on her, too, I’m sure.

I just don’t know how to honor her emotional life when I’m hard-pressed to satisfy everyone’s practical needs right now.

Y’all out there with two or more are going to laugh at me when I say this because, well, duh, but I’m going to say it anyway:

This is a lot more work than I expected.