Matt Knutson: Ups and downs of life with 2 young children

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, February 8, 2018

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“She smiles so easily,” I told my wife while rocking our youngest daughter. Maeva is over 3 months old now, and her goofy grin appears far more often than her sister’s did at this age. Whether we make a funny face or strange sound, Maeva is quick to react with a smile to just about anything. It’s a much-needed response for certain days when few things seem right in the world.

Just a few days ago, Sera looked at me and pondered if we were out of the barely-getting-by zone that most people live in after a new baby is born. It didn’t take long for me to confirm to my wife that I think we had emerged on the other side. In three short months we’ve been able to (somewhat) figure out this new baby girl, develop a schedule for feeding and sleeping, and merge that timeline with our existing life that doesn’t terribly disrupt our 2-year-old’s desires. Most days I forget how that’s pretty much a miracle in itself.

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Reflecting on this time in our lives brings out a few unanswerable questions, I’ve discovered. Is Maeva an easier baby than Gracelyn was? Are we just simply better, more experienced parents? Could it be that we’re just too exhausted so we’ve lowered our standards without realizing it? There’s probably a mix of truth in all of those thoughts. No matter what the reality is, I’m grateful that we’re in a good spot right now.

If I know anything about babies though, it’s that they change far too quickly. Just because we’re feeling confident today doesn’t mean we’re going to be good in the next week (or even the next hour, if I’m being honest). As soon as a routine is established, an invisible clock begins the inevitable countdown for when the routine is no longer valid. I am sure that at some point a routine will take hold, but even for Gracelyn it seems just beyond our fingertips on some days.

Celebrating her second birthday two weeks ago, Gracelyn is embracing her independence more than ever. She knows what she wants, but doesn’t always know how to say it. This often leads to frustration, whining and eventually tears. I often find her staring at me with her big brown eyes, desperate for me to understand her desires. My inability causes her to regress to cavewoman communication techniques, using simple grunts and pointing. No surprise — this further hinders our progress.

What’s truly fascinating about this stage in our lives is that everything is changing at a rapid pace. I can’t help but acknowledge my ignorance on how the world has really been working, as it certainly was moving this fast before we had children. It’s just far more apparent now. Just as Gracelyn is experiencing growing pains now, she’ll soon be the blissful older sibling who is guiding her little sister on the ways of the playground. Maeva’s certainly not far from her own communication struggles. Just today day care began teaching her sign language. The rhythms of life are complex, and I’m learning it is best to simply embrace and accept where you are now.

And that’s why it’s so wonderful to see Maeva’s smile every day. Almost on command, Sera and I can be blessed with a reminder of how incredible life can be. At some point, I hope to discover a technique to bottle up that reminder so it can be widely shared with all who need it. Until then, we’ll have to settle for the in-person experience and photographs. It is worth noting that a sudden expression of joy certainly doesn’t have to come from a three month old. We might all be better people if we had a designated supplement that could provide the same happiness that Maeva gives us when we tickle her cheek. The pursuit of that kind of comfort would be a most-worthy endeavor.

Matt Knutson is a communications specialist in Rochester.