Life With Two
By Mark Conforti
Aaaaagghhh (simulated yawning sound)
Oh, excuse me. You are not boring; I am just tired. Why? I am now the proud, and exhausted, father of two children.
When my wife and I married nearly six years ago, we immediately had hopes for a bustling family full of energy and joy. Now, we have it, along with the typical struggles that accompany such life changes.
Our first son was born nearly three years ago. The pregnancy and birth all went well. Just hours after his birth, my wife and I learned about a congenital abnormality where elective surgery would benefit him. We opted for the surgery, and it was a terrific success! Dealing with those related emotional struggles during the infancy of our parenthood undoubtedly prepared us for our future as parents.
The following couple years were marked by sleep deprivation and frenzied frustration, not to mention countless surprising moments of joy! I suppose we forgot about the lack of sleep and the abundance of aggravation during those first years of parenthood. After all, we hoped for another child!
Did we really want to “go backwards” with more diapers, wet bibs & burp cloths, extra laundry, and less sleep? For that matter, did we really want to feel like inadequate parents all over again? Surely other parents have contemplated this, though (when I am at my best) I see parenting as a persistent call to selfless living and sacrifice.
My wife and I discovered daily gifts of pure delight from our first son – even in the midst of our parental anxiety – and the desire for our entire family to enjoy more love and more life encouraged us to welcome another baby.
Life with two children has been sensational! Whenever I tell people that our second child is easier, I always hear back, “that’s because you’re experienced and you know what you’re doing now.” The sentiment is nice, but I am confident that our second son is simply more easy-going than our first. Since I am the dad, I have the right to stake that claim!
Then again, maybe our experience is shining through as we raise our second child. Without a doubt, my wife and I are more confident, knowledgeable, and ready for the rigors of parenting. Come to think of it, we are more easy-going!
Our first son quickly became an excellent big brother. On the first day home with his little brother, he placed a colorfully plush thing-a-ma-bob inside the infant carrier right beside the baby’s shoulder and said, “I think he wants to play with this toy.” And then he smiled, rubbing his nose with the baby’s nose! At first, we wanted to keep our little helper a healthy distance from the few-day-old baby. We immediately loosened up. Life draws life closer to itself, and these two brothers were finding each other.
Now, more than any other time with one child, I am realizing how my children are raising me. Parenting, like no other life experience, acutely reminds me of my imperfections. With each temper tantrum, I have the opportunity to keep my cool. With each dirty diaper, I have the opportunity to serve. With each absurd request for candy, I have the opportunity to set boundaries. With each elongated crying session, I have the opportunity to love gently and peacefully.
Parenting must be life’s most challenging job. Having one child was tricky enough. Now having two presents an entire set of new challenges. As a father, finding balance in life is a constant struggle, yet an endeavor worthy of every sacrifice. Have I maintained balance yet? No… I’m just trying to catch up on my sleep!