Jumping in with both feet

I felt like such a fool. 

My wife had given birth to our second child. We were a few months into our new life as a family of four. We thought we knew what to expect, but we both were falling into bed at the end of the night exhausted and on our last legs. My wife looked like she was especially tired, she had just gone back to work, so I offered to take our daughter, who was two, and our young baby out for a short get-away.

I had it all planned, we would go to a park. I would walk the baby in the stroller and my daughter could play on a nearby playground. The kids would be exercised out and would fall asleep early, leaving my wife and I to celebrate over take-out and a good night’s rest.

Problems right out of the gate

My daughter was ready to go the minute we got to the park. “Yes, honey, I told my daughter, we’ll go soon,”  I said, as I pulled out the stroller and loaded the diaper bag. We were packed more for a six-month military tour than a day at the park, but I was committed to us having fun. Of course, as soon as we walked up the playground, I could hear the baby let out a huge toot in his diaper. 

“You couldn’t go before we came to the park,” I asked. My son looked back at me like he didn’t have a care in the world.

Clone me

My daughter wanted me to push her on the swing, but I first needed to clean up her young brother. When I checked the back of his diaper, it was even messier than I thought. I laid down a blanket and started to wipe up my son. To make matters worse, he had poop up his back and wouldn’t stop wriggling on the blanket.

When I told him to stop, he looked up at me with the most mischievous grin. I have a very active imagination, I’m pretty sure it was on purpose. Of course, I soon had poop all over my shirt sleeve. Right on key, my daughter spilled her drink on herself and the bench she was sitting on and started to cry. I was needed in three different places and I was failing in all of them.

Why did I think I could hold up on my own? I wanted to scream. 

Make it work

I considered my options. We could throw in the towel and head back home. My wife would be sad, but would certainly understand, or we could stick things out and make them work. I wasn’t ready yet to give-in, I was determined to make the day work.

When I had my son finally cleaned-up, I placed him in the baby carrier that slung over my chest and started to push my daughter back and forth on the swing set. “Higher daddy, higher daddy,” she screamed out. She was finally having fun and I could hear him laughing and giggling too seeing his sister fly up in the air.

From the swing set, we went to the slides, to the Monkey Bars, to the see-saw. We were somehow making the outing work. They were having fun and I was getting a handle on life as a single parent. I decided to press my luck: I would take the both of them to the grocery store. We had gone a couple of times in the past, but it hadn’t ended well. There were still too many things to see and touch, but both were so tired, they were pleasant and helpful and I was able to take care of a much needed chore.

Learning my lesson

I learned an important lesson that day: I wanted to be the perfect parent, but it’s not possible. The number of books I read, the amount of planning I put into my job as husband and father didn’t matter. My expectations were out of a whack. I expected perfection, my kids simply wanted to spend time with me.

Parenthood is not something you prepare for. It’s something you give your live over to, something that you jump in with both feet and see where it takes you. I think the best ones work at it, looking for ways to improve and connect with their kids, but there’s no magic bullet that makes everything right.

In the years since, I’ve gotten poop, slobber, and a few other things on my sleeve, there’s no way to stop that from happening, that’s life, but parenthood has taken me to some pretty great places too. Yes, some amazing ones that I’m glad I got to experience.

Here’s to jumping-in without a net.

19 thoughts on “Jumping in with both feet

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  1. You paint the picture beautifully, Brian! I remember…especially those sly grins from the little ones with their poopy pants. My brain always imagined the same…doing it on PURPOSE?? Thanks for the memory lane smile this morning! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When my kids were little, my work was still business professional. They seemed to have radar . . . As soon as I had my jacket and tie on, they knew to spit up on me. I had a stretch where it seemed to happen every morning. I’m exaggerating but not by much. Definitely some good (&$@$!) times.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! Another fond memory was when I took the baby with me to help an organization set up a database. When I came back, my husband was watching TV. He was supposed to be watching our three-year-old son. I found our son’s clothes out by the pool. No child. I was terrified. We found him a block away walking the dog naked! My husband swears he only sat down for 30 seconds.

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      2. Oh my goodness! What a memory. I feel for both of you. We have some similar stories. Our kids used to love to hide in the clothing rack at Target or whatever store we were shopping … causing my heart to skip a few beats before I found them. They would be laughing and I would be a wreck. Ugh.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane, you’re so right! When I think back on changing diapers and the early days of parenting …. Being an empty nester now doesn’t sound so bad! Nah, every part of life has it’s good and bad moments. Thanks for letting me know what you thought of the post. Appreciate it! 😌😎😎😎

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol. That’s it, every phase of life has its trials and rewards. And, hopefully, many moments of joy. Keep writing and sharing these thoughts with your readers, Brian, both the trials and the rewards!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know if I’m ever cut out to be a parent, but your post gives me hope that it’s not about being perfect, but taking the days as they come. Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your life and leaving me more educated than before I visited!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, parenting is most certainly not about perfection! Ha, ha, I laugh now at the early days. For my family and me, it’s been about love and being there — through the good and bad — for each other. My kids, now all grown adults, will agree that I was not perfect, but they always felt loved. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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    1. Spot on. Took me a bunch of words to say what you did in seven! Ha? Ha! My kids are much older now, but it still holds true, they want to know they can talk to us, that we’re here for them, that they’re loved. Took me long enough … but I’m finally figuring out being a parent😎😎😎😎

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes as a parent . . . you just have to go with the flow. It’s not always going to be perfect. I’m sure my kids can tell you lots of crazy, horrible stories on all the things I’ve done wrong as a parent, but hopefully they can also tell you many of the times they felt loved, cherished, and valued. At least I’m hoping. Ha, ha.

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