Matt Knutson: The joy and stress of life with 2 small children

Published 11:54 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“Ever since Maeva was born two weeks ago, I’m not sure I’ve been able to complete a thought,” I told my wife as exhaustion was presenting itself once again. It is truly amazing how quickly we forgot what it was like to have a newborn around the house, and while this time seems easier because we have prior experience, it certainly doesn’t mean we’re less overwhelmed. Gracelyn, our very active 21-month-old, and her new sister are giving us a run for our money (quite literally — diapers are expensive).

Because quiet time in our home now exists in a fantasy land, I thought I might use the column this week to process a few thoughts that have been attempting to rise to the forefront of my mind but just haven’t gotten there yet. Perhaps this is an exercise in futility, but it just may provide you some entertainment. Also — this is a parental judgement-free zone.

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One reoccurring thought is centered around just how tired we are right now. Does anybody know when this will end? Should we accept this as our fate and realize being well-rested is a thing of the past? When Gracelyn was this little, we were certainly more exhausted, but we had the promise that as she gets older, it will get better. Now that we’ve doubled the little ones in our house, I don’t think that promise matters as much. Sometimes both of our children cry in the middle of the night at the same time. They shouldn’t be allowed to team up against us when they’re this little. Who can I talk to to get this fixed?

Another concept I’m attempting to process is how Gracelyn is adapting to being a big sister. Prior to Maeva’s birth, Sera and I talked frequently about how our new addition might impact our eldest daughter and what we might do to ensure our littlest girl is welcomed by her big sister. We were lucky that Gracelyn immediately took to Maeva, and any feelings of jealousy or resentment have been kept at a minimum. However, Gracelyn has suddenly embraced persistence as her life motto. I’m not sure if this is in relation to becoming a big sister or just an early onset of the “terrible twos,” but we’re not loving it. In the most caring way, she insists on closing her little sister’s winter car seat cover so as not to expose the littlest one to the frigid cold. Unfortunately, she is insisting on this when we’re in the heat of the house and the warmed-up car. She also has strong opinions on what she will eat and what movie she will watch. Every time that I give in, I’m certain I’m falling off the good-parent ladder, but sometimes you just need to tread water in order to survive. Eventually, hopefully soon, we’ll be able to climb that ladder again.

Speaking of adjustments, Beesly has had the most peculiar adjustment to the new baby. Our goldendoodle is quite suddenly beloved by Gracelyn and doesn’t have a clue what to do with the extra attention. I’m happy that our eldest is embracing man’s best friend, but I wish I knew where it was coming from. Gracelyn pretty much ignored Beesly for most of her life, so this is a mostly welcome change. Despite that good fortune, Gracelyn’s favorite game is to chase the dog around the house while pushing her medium-sized toy car. Maybe it’s all fun and games, but one of these days, Beesly isn’t going to hop out of the way fast enough. I’m hoping I’ll be at work or running an errand when that happens.

Having another daughter has been such a joy, and these two weeks of paternity leave from work have allowed our home to truly create some wonderful memories. But on nights like tonight, where my eyes are heavy and the faint cries are becoming louder, I have to appreciate just how amazing parents are, both in my own life and in general. It’s remarkable how much we can love and desire something that brings so many challenges to life. When else do we so willingly welcome a life-altering moment? In the next few days and weeks I’m sure I’ll be able to better collect my thoughts, but until then, I’ll choose to reflect on the awe and wonder of this new little life in our home, and leave all of the worry and chaos for another day.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.