If I didn’t write about today, I couldn’t call myself a parenting blogger, because it's been a watershed moment in my long, illustrious 20-plus year parenting journey. Today marked the first time I was alone with two small children for an entire day. That's right, after more than nine months of maternity and medical leave, Sarah has returned to work, and it’s been just my boys and me for the last 15 hours. (Ah, there’s the sound of Sarah’s car returning now. At long last, William can nurse.)
Make no mistake—there was a lot of build-up to this day, on many levels. There was my own anticipation (or perhaps I should say terror?) of it, knowing that I’d suddenly be operating without a net (Sarah), and that I’d be at the mercy of two little sets of needs. There was Sarah’s mental and emotional preparation for being separated from her precious little William for the first time. And there was the coaching of Jackson and Max to get them ready for what will be expected of them.
But mostly, there was Sarah’s fear of leaving them alone with me. You see, I have a reputation for being slightly distracted. If you’ve ever gone to get a snack, decided on the way to finally replace the battery in that smoke detector, realized as you were looking for a battery that the drawer handle was loose, and then, while struggling to find a screwdriver in the garage, started reorganizing your tools because the screwdriver was in a stupid place, then you know what I’m talking about.
For some reason, Sarah had developed this crazy notion that I might not be able to focus on both of my little boys at the same time. That I might start playing with Max and forget that William was underneath that pillow. Or that I might get caught up taking pictures of William and forget that Max got out of preschool 45 minutes ago. Or that I might start talking with a neighbor out front and not notice Max pushing the stroller across the street with William in it.
Okay, so maybe she had something to worry about based on my track record. But to be fair, my track record—at least the track record she could refer to—was all established with her at home. In other words, it’s no track record. Because anyone who’s spent any time parenting alone will agree, it’s absolutely nothing like parenting knowing that your partner is in the next room. You can’t take the same liberties. You can’t resort to the old “I thought you were watching him.” And you certainly can’t leave the preschooler and 6-month-old alone in the kitchen and go tend to your weeding.
I tried to explain this to Sarah, telling her that when I know I’m the only show in town, I’ll step up the plate. She would just look at me, with her head cocked and one eyebrow raised, and give me one of those sardonic “uh-huh”s we’ve all heard.
But guess what? I was right! I know it’s only been one day, but I’d have to say, with all objectivity, that today I may have put on the all-time greatest example of stellar parenting. I texted about playdates, drove to and from said playdates, anwered work emails, made bottles, fed the baby, changed diapers, ran errands (including picking up Diaper Genie refills for the parents of Max’s playdate!), made more bottles, fed the baby again, got kids to nap, changed more diapers, answered more work emails, supervised backyard play, made more bottles AND changed more diapers, cooked dinner, bathed the preschooler, made one last bottle, read stories, got two tired boys to sleep, and then collapsed in a heap.
Now I know what you all are thinking now: Where can I get that job!? No, seriously, you’re probably wondering how long I can last before having a nervous breakdown. But just as I would say to Sarah, I’m here to tell you I have no such concerns. Truth be known, I actually had a really good time surviving the gauntlet, and I feel confident that I can usher these kids through literally hundreds of similar days alone over the next few years, with very few hospitalizations, while Sarah works hard to support this family.
Yessirree, I’m one progressive man. Now what the hell did I do with that screwdriver?