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    Matt Fleming: Thank God for family
    • October 8, 2023

    It turns out that raising two kids is way harder than raising one. 

    My wife and I just welcomed our son into the world two weeks ago, which also happened to be just days after our daughter’s first birthday.

    But instead of simply doubling our workload and stress, the second baby brought a multiplier effect that blew way past double and into a what-is-happening-to-me level of work and stress.

    My son eats constantly, a service I cannot provide, so I am often left watching the toddler – and she is a handful. 

    (My wife asked me to make it clear that I understand that I don’t watch my own kids, nor do I babysit. I parent, I spend time with, but I don’t watch or babysit. I understand, Dear). 

    While he spends most of his time eating, sleeping and keeping his eyes open for short periods of time, staring at the wall like it’s the Mona Lisa, my daughter stays busy by satisfying her curiosity in every dangerous way imaginable. They say to make sure the house is baby proofed – but nothing can be totally baby-proofed because Baby refuses to be denied. 

    If there’s a ledge, she’s on it. She’ll either fall off or climb up and then fall off – whatever the situation calls for. She has yet to learn from her mistakes. 

    She loves the oven and shutting things on her fingers. Live wires excite her. Everything goes in her mouth: rocks, sticks, extension cords, and sometimes she’s too fast for me to tell whatever that last thing was. 

    Intense heat, heights, electricity, sharpness and choke hazards don’t scare her a bit. Danger is her middle name.  

    We took her to swimming lessons and my primary goal was to keep her alive. I was successful, but it wasn’t easy. 

    Every time her face got close to the water, which was quite often during a swim lesson, she lunged for the water to drink it. Not only did this lead to repeated self-waterboarding, but she drank a bunch of chlorine too. 

    The swim instructor said not to worry, kids get sick once from drinking the pool water and never do it again, but it turns out my daughter is one of a kind. 

    I might be impressed with my daughter’s courage and passion for life if I wasn’t so busy helicoptering in terror or fantasizing about the day my wife can put down our son for a while.

    But all the terrifying moments cannot offset the tremendous love and appreciation I’ve developed for my daughter over the past year. So many things about her I absolutely adore. 

    How she says “Hi” and blows kisses at literally everything. How she snores. How she follows me everywhere I go and gets mad if I go too fast. How her favorite word is “Dada” (take that, Wife!). How when the day is done she walks into the room with her pacifier and blanket and says: “Nigh, nigh” (baby talk for bedtime). 

    How just this week she started singing along to Raffi (we’ll get her on Alice In Chains and Luke Combs soon enough) and joins my wife and I in humming.

    As annoying as it can be, I love that when she’s done eating a certain food item, she just throws it over her shoulder. This of course does not mean she’s done eating it, just that she’s moved on to something else for now and will inevitably want whatever she just cast aside. Hopefully she’ll soon learn that she can simply leave it on her high-chair tray until she’s ready to eat it, but until then we’re reluctant observers of the five-second rule. 

    When she was our son’s age, a few weeks old, we were freaked out by everything. It’s terrifying. I was constantly checking her to make sure she was still breathing. There’s only one cry, but I was a wreck trying to figure out what it could mean.

    But that’s all changed. Whenever our daughter is at daycare and we’re alone with our newborn son, it’s like a vacation. If he’s crying, he’s probably hungry. Feed him and he stops crying – it’s simple. 

    Our daughter is still unsure of the new guy, which wreaks havoc on my wife’s and my emotions. Though to be fair, my wife and I are a little unsure of him too — we’re all still getting acquainted, after all. 

    But when I consider how much my love has grown for my daughter over the past year, I have no doubt the same will happen for my son. I mean, just look at his little face! And those yawns!

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    This whole experience has given me a profound respect for single parents, especially those with multiple kids. Or the parents of twins, or triplets, and so on. And all the parents, really. 

    Parenting is hard. It’s a title fight in time management. How to put more than one kid to bed around the same time is a Dan Brown-level mystery I’ve yet to crack. 

    But it’s all worth it. To make this an argument and to satisfy my editor’s insistence that the opinion pages contain opinion pieces, I’ll say this: If you have the chance to be a parent, take it. 

    I know it can be daunting (it’s actually way harder than you imagine!). Maybe you’re scared, or maybe there’s something else blocking you. Whatever it is, you are missing out on the most amazing experience of your life. 

    My wife is an amazing spouse, friend and parent. My daughter is a gift from the heavens and my son is an unfolding adventure. Thank God for family.

    Follow Matt on Twitter or X or whatever you call it @FlemingWords

    ​ Orange County Register