I was feeling pretty confident in my abilities as a dad after the birth of my first two kids. I acclimated myself to minimal sleep, built up calluses by changing countless diapers, and could simultaneously feed one kid while playing with the other. But then, when my second child was only nine months old, my wife and I got pregnant again. At that point, I realized I was way, way out of my league. Two under two! It was something I'd only read about in parenting magazines. How would we possibly manage?
Family and friends, by the way, were no help. When we had our first two children, everyone made a big fuss. But when they learned about the timing of our third, they invariably asked, "Was it planned?" The fact that it wasn't didn't really matter. Baby was on his way and we'd have to figure out how to handle a situation that would make most parents tremble in fear.
Luckily, my wife and I became a highly effective tag team. When you've got two kids in diapers and they need to be changed at the same time, you’ll have to pull off the most coordinated balancing act in parenting history. Suddenly, it became a race to get my middle child toilet trained as quickly as possible, if for no other reason than to alleviate the constant pressure of double diaper doody. Er, duty. I meant duty.
Alas, my already-scant free time just about disappeared with two under two. Instead, I became a creature of the night, cramming as many chores as possible into the wee hours before collapsing in an exhausted heap.
Plus, my one-and-a-half-year-old started to act out. I anticipated some negative feelings toward this newborn interloper demanding all the attention, but I wasn't expecting such jealousy-fueled tantrums. In the end, one-on-one time from an adult was the only thing that calmed both babies. That, of course, meant my oldest child sometimes felt neglected, but we made him feel important by getting him involved.
All parents know that kids are expensive, but two under two nearly put us the poorhouse. The rate at which we went through baby sundries made my head spin and made me seriously think about getting a second job at the same time. And I won't even mention the cost of a double stroller. As a result of the financial strain, hand-me-downs became a godsend.
I can look back now and manage a feeble chuckle, but I'll never forget how challenging that first year was. Still, it was all worth it. Because our two under two are so close in age, there's a possibility they'll become the best of friends since they have so much in common. It would have been nice to have an extra pair of arms during the whole experience, though.
Donald S. Deane is the proud papa of three little boys who provide endless amounts of joy and sleep deprivation. He has held a variety of jobs, including college English teacher, newspaper reporter/editor, internet project manager, dishwasher and dogcatcher. Don has written for AOL TV, Moviefone, TheFW, ScreenCrush, GuySpeed, and Arcade Sushi, among others.
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