By the Friday of every week I am completely exhausted. After wrangling the Twins, beating the snot out of my house-husbanding chores, and writing this fine publication (which many have recently remarked that they cannot believe I have time for), I am spent. So spent that my during-the-rest-of-the-week 2:00 pm crash usually hits at 11:30 am, while lying on the floor with my progeny in the middle of Tummy/Rolling All Over the Place Time, as I nod off mid-pseudo-engaging-baby-critical-thinking-question-about-the-toys-they-are-marvelling-at. (“What color is that ball? What shape is that ba–Zzzzzz…Ow! Did you just punch me in the nose? … What color is my nose?”)
With that in mind, I usually set few, very small goals for Fridays.
Take last Friday for example. It was the end of my busiest week in a while. In addition to my regular duties (huh-huh, I said duties), I’ve been doing some contracted tech work as well as boxing belongings and seeking out new residences for the Pseudonymous family since we have recently decided to move.
And so, as I resuscitated myself with my super-charged Friday morning coffee, I decided to aim low. Aside from the givens (twin care, dishwashing, ninjutsu training), my primary objective was to browse the iTunes store for music and determine what I would purchase with the $15 gift card my wife got me over a month ago for Father’s Day. (Would you believe I haven’t had time?) I’ve had it sitting out on the counter as a reminder ever since receiving it from my wonderful wife, and have caught taunting glimpses of it while making bottles, folding laundry, and soothing meltdowns.
With months of trophy husbanding experience under my belt, I believed this iTunes iTask to finally be within my iGrasp. Even if the kids were particularly grumpy, I could line up my sonic candidates like reality show contestants waiting for the red rose of approval, hit play, and discriminatingly consume. In fact, the Twinfants would most certainly enjoy the ever-changing sensory stimulation generated by the constant toggling of song clips.
No problem, right?
Well, of course not. Why would I write about that? It failed miserably.
The primary reason the plan disintegrated like a drool-drenched Graduates Puff was that we had absolutely no Nap Overlap. Those of you who are Loyal Readers know this means my children were never asleep at the same time. In fact, for the entire day, they were on completely opposite sleep schedules. As soon as I delivered one to Sleepy Town, the other was just waking up. All. Freaking. Day.
Now, I will admit this situation has its advantages, for instance facilitating quality one-on-one time with each of the twins individually, which is something all the books about twins that I don’t have time to read seem to say is important. On the other tiny hand, such a rhythm does not facilitate Daddy getting a freaking second to himself. Not to go to the bathroom, not to eat (unless I combine them), not even to accomplish tedious tasks like defunkifying dishes, laundering laundry, and listening to smooth on-hold jazz while waiting to haggle with customer service representatives.
Plus, at almost seven months old, the Twinfants are teething and especially irritable. As a matter of fact, amidst Frankenstein-monster moans akin to dueling banjos, transparent vampire-fang drool trickles flowing from each mouth corner, angry head-butts to Daddy’s sternum, and the frantic gnawing of foam books, plush pandas, and human fingers, we have sprouted the First Two Teeth of Pseudonymous: The Next Generation, with our son’s inaugural chomper emerging on Thursday evening and our daughter’s fashionably late pearly white fanfaring into view Saturday morning.
Guess which day was right in the middle? That’s right. Friday, the day iFailed.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Although both kids had their share of I-need-you-to-hold-me-right-now-Daddy-or-I-will-shatter-every-window-with-my-squeals moments, there were also a few peppered throughout the day when they seemed content, or, as Snoop Dogg wouldn’t say: “Rollin’ down the floor, sucking teething rings, sippin’ on baby formula, laid back, with their minds on their (stuffed) monkeys and their monkeys on their minds.”
Then, I got greedy.
On at least three occasions, I thought, Okay, they seem pretty chill. I could maybe squeeze in a song sample or twenty. I even lowered my laptop’s volume and strategically placed it in accessible but out-of-baby-sight locations, as I have learned they do NOT like to compete with Skynet for my attention. On my final Hail Mary attempt, I even tried earbuds. However, every listening session ended abruptly, about five seconds into the first clip, as they noticed I was not staring at them, hanging on their every gesture, the only proper response for which, of course, is a tantrum. This did not make for an optimal music previewing atmosphere.
I’ll admit I missed an opportunity around 2 pm, just after bottle-guzzling. They were happily cooing at their playthings on the floor, and I home-run trotted to my computer. This is it! I thought. It’s all happening! I chose an album (The Features’ Wilderness) clicked “play all samples,” and rejoined the munchkins on the floor. As they chattered and smiled at me occasionally, I laid on my back and stared at the ceiling fan, listening to my prospective new jams. Which made me think of seeing the band live when they came to Phoenix a few years ago. It was just my wife and me then. Simpler times. Not “better” times by any means, but definitely simpler. And I remembered the electrifying onstage energy the band had, and the badass hollow-bodied guitar their frontman rocked. Which made me think about how Pseudonymous hasn’t “Gone Electric” in a while. I’ve been folking out with the Twins acoustically, but haven’t “plugged in” for months. I should do that. Do I need new strings?
Before I knew it, the song previews had ended 15 minutes ago and I had still only paid attention to the first five seconds of the first song.
Now, before you decide that this poor, frustrated soul is clearly on his last nerve and take it upon yourself to send in your magical parenting guru suggestions about what I should have done in order to achieve my iGoal even though you: 1) weren’t here, 2) weren’t as tired as I was, and 3) have never met my children and thus don’t know what works (and what doesn’t) with them, I want to emphasize that in the scheme of things, I don’t care about the stupid iTunes card. (I also already tried your suggestion anyway since eating Wheaties daily makes me a Champion by definition.)
The more I pushed to “git-r-done,” the more I realized that purchasing music was just not in the cards for me that day. (Haha, get it?) Even more importantly, every day I could focus on achieving little tasks like buying music, getting every last dish washed, or writing yet another genius blog post–and in doing so, continually exasperate myself because the Twins usually need me more than I anticipate. Or, instead, I could remind myself what a privilege staying home to raise them is. Even though I spend more time with them than anyone else, it still feels like they’re growing up so quickly. I know although my wife enjoys her job, it doesn’t hold a candle to seeing them all day on weekends, and remember when I first returned to work from paternity leave, I felt like I was missing out all day.
Every moment I have with them is an opportunity for me to savor the awe-inspiring experience that is parenthood and, in the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
There will be plenty of time for me to buy my stupid music in the future, and yes, over the weekend, I was finally able to redeem the gift card one night once the kids went to sleep. As it turned out, it was an even better Fathers’ Day present than it first appeared to be.
It reminded me how lucky I am to be a Dad.
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If not, maybe you just need a day off. It worked for Cameron.
I slapped myself in the face repeatedly, forcing my dozing eyes open so as not to veer off the freeway, t-bone a concrete slab, and send my weary head through shards of broken windshield, thus widowing my poor wife and newborn fraternal twins, never to be able to tell my great grandchildren tales riddled with outrageous claims about how many New York Times bestsellers I wrote back in the day. When you’re a new parent, you suddenly grow an incredible appreciation for as many moments of sleep you can get, as well as beverages containing enough caffeine to wake the dead. Unfortunately, the Coke I’d drank during my last period class had gotten me through the lesson, but had conveniently tapered off just as I’d gotten on the road.
At the time, we were getting about three hours of sleep on a good night. It’s difficult enough to get rest when you have one newborn, as I’ve been told, anyway. I wouldn’t know because these are our first two, and I don’t have the experience of only one baby with which to compare it. I will say that it’s a rare, triumphant event during the first few weeks when both twins are asleep at the same time. They do not come with a synchronization feature, and tech support has stated that there are no current upgrades in the works.
This means that any time one wakes up, you are on red alert because any noise whatsoever from the first could wake the other. However, you are also faced with the possible decision of intentionally waking the other in an effort to create your own synchronization system. All the books suggest it, but was the chapter you fell asleep reading relevant in this exact situation? Maybe you and your spouse should just stand there, staring at each other, waiting for the other to make an executive decision. Maybe you can pretend you’re sleepwalking, so she’ll have to make the call. But wait, is she actually sleepwalking? The silent deliberation is then broken by the sound of your poor, as-of-late neglected canine, who insists on letting the thug with the thumping bass in his hot rod know that she can hear him and does not like it. She’s more of an indie rock fan.
And so twin number two is up, startle reflex triggered, causing what looks like a breakneck rendition of Swan Lake and culminating in an inventive new blood-curdling shriek, finding octaves you did not realize were in a newborn’s register. We need to get her a voice coach. I should write that down.
Then, amidst the chaos, one of the little people in question rests a tiny hand on your arm or shoots you a rare bashful smile, and you are reminded that this is all totally and completely worth it.
These were our nights.
A few more whacks to the face and I was good to go, with the added bonus of rosy cheeks. I had returned to my job as a middle school English teacher two weeks ago and this, paired with sleepless nights, made the drive home one of the day’s most daunting tasks. At the same time, it gave me a phenomenal excuse to roll every window down and crank obnoxious punk rock up to 11 as if I were still in high school, which is always great fun. I especially appreciate this as a new reason to justify the purchase of such sonic greatness to my wife, who finds snotty old-school hardcore to be a particularly challenging listen.
My attempt to cross the threshold of the Central Twintelligence Agency (my home) was thwarted. After a few attempts at opening the door (and a few WTFs), I realized the culprit: the open door of our front-loading dryer. This is a feature of our house that I will surely employ in the event of a zombie apocalypse. “Babe, I can’t get in again!”
“Okay, hold on! I need to put them both down!”
After wading through the pink-and-light-blue rubble and changing out of the clothes that had God-knows-what all over them from tween sneezes and coughs, I gave my hands a good scrub, and kissed my bleary-eyed wife, who was on the couch with my son and daughter in each arm. My children perked up and kicked with wide-eyed excitement at the sound of Daddy’s voice, and my dog, who was gated in the kitchen/dog lounge, performed the “welcome home” ritual I’ve come to expect, the old I’m-so-excited-you’re-home-that-if-you-don’t-get-me-outside-in-five-seconds-I-will-urinate-on-the-floor gag.
I finally plopped down on the couch with my son in my lap, and smiled at my wife, happy to be home again. “So, how was today?”
“Pretty good. So…I think you should quit your job and stay home with the kids starting in the fall.”
I laughed. “Yeah, okay. What do you want to do for dinner? I’m starving.”
“No, I’m serious. You should stay home with the kids. I thought about it and I think it’s a great idea. Plus, you could start taking classes again and finish your Ph.D. sooner.”
I was dumbstruck. And, of course, the only logical response was, “How about Taco Bell?”
Suffice it to say that after some processing time (and two Beefy Crunch Burritos), I realized my wife—as always—had an excellent point, and after further discussion, we decided that when the school year ended this May, I would start my brand new position: trophy husband.
Luckily, I was the only applicant.
And thus began preparations for a new chapter in my life, a date which will live in twinfamy.
This blog will chronicle my adventures as a new, stay-at-home father of twins. Since there are comparatively fewer stay-at-home dads and even fewer who have twins, I’m hoping that other dads in my situation will especially benefit from reading this. At the same time, it isn’t exclusively for them.
I’m a brand new parent, and I’ll never claim to be an expert, but I do plan on sharing what I’ve found to work well with my kids, as well as what hasn’t. Because my wife and I are experiencing boy and girl newborns simultaneously, we have the unique opportunity to offer—for lack of a better term—two different “case studies” to other new parents. Also, out of necessity, we’re constantly searching for new ways and products that make caring for two babies at the same time more efficient, and in that way, I feel all new parents—and especially new parents of multiples—will find it helpful.
When we get right down to it, though, this blog is really for anyone and everyone. As a soon-to-be-former middle school English teacher who has needed to hold uninterested young minds’ attention for a living, I believe learning is amplified and enhanced by things that are awesome. For that reason (and, admittedly, my own enjoyment) I’m going to make this as entertaining as I can. I’m going to tell stories instead of making lame, boring lists that sound like a robot crapped them out. So this is also going to be a sort of sitcom-y memoir, which could be enjoyed by anyone with amazing taste and who knows sheer genius when they see it. (That’s you!)
I don’t know exactly what to expect, but I do know it will be incredible because I’ll have the privilege of spending most of my time with my little boy and girl, who make life absolutely beautiful (along, of course, with my wife—love you, babe!).
I hope you stay tuned, and enjoy.