We have three children. The oldest is our 16 year old daughter who is obviously not perfect, but a very mature and kind young lady who is going to be successful in life at whatever she does. Then we have the bros.
They are five and three years old. And they…are…exhausting. I remember when our five year old was born. When I would touch my wife’s belly, he would punch or kick my hand. In the incubator five minutes after birth, he did a military crawl and nearly came off the table. Uh…that’s not supposed to happen, right doc?
To say he was a fussy baby, was to do a disservice to the millions of babies before and after who can only aspire to the bar he set. I remember my wife and I read every written word since the dawn of man trying to figure out what we were doing wrong.
He constantly wanted to nurse. He constantly wanted to be held. The moments when he actually slept were cruel reminders of the life that existed before he came charging into the world. He was/is not a bad child, but it’s like he has an internal radar that goes off when he is not receiving your full and undivided attention. It’s still the same almost five years later and I think it’s contagious.
Our three year old came into the world after multiple checks during the pregnancy to make sure he was still alive. I would touch, poke, prod her belly and nothing happened. He didn’t move much. We were concerned something was wrong because…well, his brother seemed to want to fight me from within the womb. Little man came out and was fine. A happy, quiet, contented little guy. And I was worried.
Not worried for him, but for me/my wife. Here was this sweet, beautiful happy little baby with a brother that had only one speed and constantly needed attention. How in the world will I not play favorites?
Fortunately God must give all people internal sensors which allow us to see and feel love in enough brief moments of bliss to offset the other 23 1/2 hours of the day when exhaustion, frustration and defeat invade our souls.
Our little guy is still generally a sweet, content little man, but he, too is strong willed and tests my patience just as much as his big brother.
Big brother is almost compulsive about things. Dinosaurs were our constant focus up until this summer when fishing has become the focus. He wakes up: “dad, can we go fishing today?” Yes buddy. “Now?” No, I need to go to work. I walk in the door: “can we go fishing now, dad?” Uh, let me change and go to the bathroom buddy. And it wouldn’t matter if it’s 94 degrees and the fish aren’t biting, he will be disappointed when I say it’s time to stop even if it’s been four or five hours.
But then there’s those moments when I look over at him as the sweat is dripping off and I’m swatting bugs out of my face and see that perfect little boy that I’m giving my all. He is my son that sucks every ounce of my patience and resolve and tests my will every day. But he is also that sweet little boy sitting next to me watching the bobber who asks me how my day was. He asks me if anyone visited me at work today and if they were handsome or pretty. He puts his hand on me and says thanks when I help untangle the line.
So there isn’t a “problem” with raising a duo that senses if mom and dad are trying to have a conversation or a moment alone. It’s not that we have failed as parents because our kids are constantly the ones we feel the need to apologize for in public settings. The unsolicited parenting advice we get is met with a forced smile and a little voice inside that says “how about I let you try your little suggestion for a couple days”…then the actual smile bursts forth in the visual of that stunned, exhausted person returning our bulls in a china shop never to return.
Yes they are exhausting. And yes, there are moments nearly every day where I fail as a dad by getting mad or frustrated at them. I feel horrible when I think about all the moments I’ve failed as a parent. But I also know my kids are getting my best and that’s ok.
It’s ok to have moments of failure. Because these kids are also getting my best. They are getting a dad that goes fishing…every…single…day. They are getting the dad that listens to pointless stories with wrapt attention. They get the dad that always loves to play the kissy-monster.
Yes, there are always enough moments in each day when I overcome that gnawing doubt of my skills as a man, that I know I am the right dad for these kids.