When does it get easier?

It’s 3am and I’m plodding down the hallway answering the call of a crying child. I comfort her and get her back to
sleep and thankfully the twin doesn’t wake during the process. I shuffle back to my own bed like a zombie and collapse on the bed.

As I try to get back to sleep I can’t help but wonder “haven’t I already done this dance before?” Didn’t we already get through the sleep problem stage? But of course, this time their interrupted sleep is from a cough and although it’s not their fault, it’s as if we’re back to them being infants and Daddy being awoken every half hour or so. Sleep-deprivation is not a welcome flashback or happy memory.

But it made me think (a week later when I was actually vaguely conscious again) that this parenting gig is a bit misleading. It’s supposed to get easier as we go, isn’t it?

We all know that signing up for babies includes night time feeds, crying and sleep deprivation early on. But they grow out of that right? Well, yes, but you can’t foresee the unexpected such as sickness. And it never really stops.

Secondly, I’ve noticed it doesn’t actually get easier. Things don’t really get better, they just change. For example, when they’re young and you can’t work out why they’re crying non-stop you wish they could talk so they could tell you.

Then, in a perfect be-careful-what-you-wish-for moment, they learn to talk. And talk back. And they talk non-stop. And you sometimes wish they’d just be quiet.

When you’re housebound with babies that can’t move themselves, you wish they’d start crawling. Then you blink and they’re running in different directions and you can’t keep up and you’re thinking about leashes and longing for the days they couldn’t get out of the lounge room under their own steam.

In fact, just about every time I’ve started to relax into a routine, the twins have changed and once again I’m chasing the game.

I could go on and on but it boils down to them having phases. They grow, they change and we adapt (in theory). But man it just makes things harder, doesn’t it?

I asked my parents about when it started getting easier and they could start living their lives again and they replied “Well, you’re still asking me questions this minute, aren’t you?”

They’re very funny my Mum and Dad. But they’re also wonderful. They’ve stuck by me through thick and thin. They’ve loved me unconditionally even when I was being troublesome. They’re STILL putting up with me and their non-stop support has made the person I am today. And I’m someone who loves being a parent.

I know it’s easy to focus on the tantrums and frustrations but for every twin-fight there’s at least two cuddles. There are nose rubs, impromptu dances, made-up songs and surprise pounces. I delight in the wonder in their eyes and the curiosity of their minds. Sharing new experiences with them and showing them the world is simply incredible.

So, while I have bleary eyes rather than answers, I’m trying to remember the bigger picture. They’ll keep growing and becoming even more independent. And there’ll come a time when they don’t want their Dad in their lives every minute, so perhaps I should be careful what I wish for.

Losing it

daddy diariesI’ve never been so scared in my life.

And let me put that in perspective. I’ve been shot at, had a knife held at my throat by someone who wanted me dead and been in riots. I’ve jumped out of planes, off towers and into misadventure frequently. I’ve regularly chased my curiosity passed the point most would.

But never have I ever felt as sick to the stomach as the moment I couldn’t find one of my children.

We were on a cruise liner on holidays. Twin A broke right, Twin B broke left. I chased the quicker one but the other had rounded a corner by the time I swooped the first up. I wasn’t concerned at this point: just irritated by their behaviour of the previous hour and this seemingly co-ordinated escape plan.

I set off down the corridor but no Gypsy. Rounding corner number 3 still no sign so I picked up the pace. Around the fourth corner and about to complete a rectangular journey I stopped cold. There in the middle of the corridor was the stuffed turtle she carries everywhere.

Everywhere. The one she wouldn’t even allow to go in her luggage. I feel a chill down my spine.

I scoop it up but my fast walk has become a run now. I complete the circuit to no avail and check into the lounge in the middle where the rest of the family is but she’s not there. I dump Rhapsody with grandma while I take off at a sprint: me one way, grand-dad the other. We meet without toddler.

I’m very calm in a crisis but this time I’m aware my heart-rate is higher than normal. The wife has checked in with a staff member who shows little concern with “It’s a ship – it’s not as if she can go far”.

I widen the search doing the entire level at a sprint. By the 15-minute mark I’m checking toilets as I pass them trying not to think about the why of my actions. One level of 14 searched. Corridors and toilets anyway.

By 25 minutes I’m almost frantic. In the face of gunfire calm, but here? I’m aware I’m starting to lose it. It’s at this point that I peer over the mezzanine and, luckily, spot my wandering daughter – perhaps determined to live up to her name – walking purposefully through the crowds two floors below.

I fly down two flights of stairs quicker then Usain Bolt and sweep her up in my arms. Surprisingly I have no anger in my system. Just relief and, oddly, I’m on the verge of tears.

Unlike her daddy, she was relatively calm and tells me she couldn’t find me so she was heading back to our cabin. She was almost there too (later I would marvel this was quite a feat for a three-year-old).

Later I would also wonder at how quickly my mind went to a bad place where I assumed the worst.

When did I go from fearless liver of life to vulnerable?

The day I became a parent.