“How do you manage to raise three children under the age of two?”
“How do you manage with your husband traveling so often?”
“How do you manage with a career that demands 50 hours a week?”
How do I manage, it’s easy, I get out of bed. The alarm sounds, I sigh, check all three baby monitors and then I pull the covers back and it begins. Making bottles for the twins, changing three sets of diapers, chasing my almost two-year-old around to force on her school uniform, getting the three ready for the day – it all just happens. There isn’t time to pity myself, to resent my husband for his weeks away, to wish I could quit my job. If I have an extra 10 minutes to think about life, it’s spent ordering my toddler new shoes, as she’s curling her toes in the last pair that fits. My date nights are with Amazon after the kids have gone to sleep, buying larger pajamas, new toothbrushes, and so many sippy cups.
Whether you stay at home, work 40 or 60 hours a week, have one kid or multiples, babies or teens, life as a parent pretty much feels the same. Someone once told me, being a parent to a child takes 100 percent of your time – so does being a parent to three.
Does each child get less time with me than I’d prefer? Of course. Is it exhausting? Definitely. But having a career that entails 50 hours a week, three babies, and a husband who’s in the process of getting a corporate apartment in another city feels just about the same as having one little newborn. Except I get three sets of snuggles, three slobbery wet kisses, and three to hold at night.
On the occasions where stress and frustration have me doubting my ability to handle all the layers of my life, I think one thought – is this really that hard?
When my twins were only 11 days old, my son fell ill with Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a medical condition where the intestines start to die. In many cases, it’s fatal or causes life-altering complications. The night the doctors informed us, my husband and I drove home from the hospital in silence, then I sat in my daughter’s room, with her curled in my arms (she was only a baby herself at the time) and I bawled. I cried harder at that moment than in any occurrence previous in my life. The pain that rattled through me was so excruciating that I’m not sure I’ll ever fully recover.
At that moment, a piece of my inherent personality died, and someone else was born. When I rose from her rocker, when I called the hospital to check on him, when I battled beside him, when we fought through the horrors of that disease, everything was different. Everything else in life became sublimely easy.
So, when my sons are screaming, my daughter has spilled her milk, the office is calling, I smell poop from multiple dirty diapers, and my husband is on another business trip – it still simply feels easy.
Because I know what hard feels like and this just isn’t it.
Hard is hearing your son might not live through the night, hard is having to go home to tend to a little girl while your son fights for life. Hard is having another 3-pound baby to worry about, while doctors focus on saving his brother. Hard is seeing sheer fear in your husband’s eyes.
But harder still is life for those who brought home one twin instead of two. And with those parents in mind, I say managing this life isn’t hard. Because I have three babies to love in a world where tomorrow isn’t promised.
So, the next time you reach the point where you want to curl into the fetal position and you’re wondering how you are going to manage life, take one moment and ask yourself, “Is this really that hard?”