So Tomoko was out of town for a couple of nights this week on a business trip, and it happened to fall on the nights I had JP. This meant two kids at home to take care of, along with work, dog, cat, and various other responsibilities. I mention this not as an exercise in cyber-bitching (which I very much enjoy), but instead as a way to demonstrate how incredibly good a father I have become: I’m pretty fantastic.
Back a few years now, when it was just me and JP for long stretches, the thought of taking care of two little people on my own would have been highly intimidating. How do you feed, clean, and not totally ruin two dependents at the same time? Doesn’t one get in the way of the other, like Cain and Abel, Romeo and Juliet, peas and carrots? One was tough enough–but two? Perish the thought.
Yet there was a moment last night when I had completed dinner for both kids–a dinner, I might add, that JP even ate–when I had managed to navigate JP through his bath while changing Ellie’s diapers and getting her into her pajamas; when I had answered every one of JP’s nightly 5 million questions while making sure he brushed his teeth and Ellie ran around the room holding my shoes and brandishing a copy of the New Yorker; when both were in the bedroom at the same time, in the dark–JP drifting to sleep, Ellie on my lap sipping a bottle–there was this moment, it happened, when I knew they would both go down easily for the night, and that I could handle both at the same time and it would be no big deal; that I could tell JP a quick story and give Ellie a last pat on the cheek before dropping her gently into the crib; and it would all be just Jim Dandy.
What was particularly nice about this, you see, was that while, in my estimation, life with children generally offers a great many long-term rewards–loving relationships, pride, someone to keep you out of a hospice–but in the short term? It’s not always so easy, frankly, and mostly feels more like struggle and strife and poop (and calling things poop) and tears and the fact that I haven’t been to a movie in over a year.
But last night was pretty good, mostly because for the first time in a long time, I felt like I owned the whole damn thing.