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A Stay-at-Home Dad Raising Twins Finds That Free Time Is at a Premium

June 14, 2012 By:
Paul Kaplan
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The author with his energetic children

I think I've blown it. I have no chance for a great first Father's Day. It's pretty much my own fault. I procrastinated on Mother's Day and before I knew it, I'd waited too long to order the gift she wanted. Instead, I had to give my wife a rain check on her first Mother's Day. When I say "the gift she wanted," I don't mean that I thought I had an idea of what she'd like. I mean she sent me a well-researched list of four of her favorite twin-related necklaces and allowed me to choose which to buy. I couldn't have been more spoon-fed unless she wrote out her own card, bought the necklace, gave it to herself, then tagged me in the pictures on Facebook.

I tried to rationalize to her that it's impossible to find time to do anything as a stay-at-home Dad raising our infant twins. I told her the email fell out of sight and I'm sorry I ruined her first Mother's Day. But the more I spoke, the deeper in the dirty diapers I sank.

In my defense, it's pretty tough finding time for anything outside of caring for these two little angels of ours. In the weeks leading up to Mother's Day, they'd discovered crawling and standing, and my son realized that if he wanted to rip the cable box off the entertainment center, he could just wait until Dad had to use the bathroom, crawl over there, pull himself up and do it.

The first eight months or so were bumpy: no sleep, erratic nap schedules and don't even get me started on when they cut those first teeth. But there was one immutable truth, barring an earthquake or tornado. Whenever I put a kid down, he or she stayed there.

That, of course, ended one fateful day when my daughter discovered she could move. At first, it was adorable. She had no control of her body and although she desperately wanted that squeaky giraffe, every time she'd push off, her legs would fail her and backwards she'd go, unable to figure out why Sophie kept getting farther and farther away. She would do laps around our kitchen in reverse, excited she could move but with no idea that she should be going the other way. But the cute days of harmless backwards-crawling are long gone. She and her brother have become the Humvees of crawlers.

For a time, we could keep them contained to one area of the living room with our own Great Wall of China. We used exersaucers, stuffed animals, toy crates and anything we could find that looked sturdy enough to hold back a motivated 9-month-old. But even the Great Wall was breached by the Mongols, and our two made a mockery of our attempt to contain them. First, they squeezed between the weak points where the exersaucer met the oversized stuffed elephant. Then, to add insult to injury, they started to dive-bomb themselves over toys.

It's become ridiculous how long it takes to get basic tasks done. Once upon a time in my work life, I took pride in creating detailed to-do lists. I returned phone calls, sent emails and crossed off those tasks until my list was a scribble of horizontal lines.

Just the other day, I found a list from March and almost cried as I realized that the only project I'd completed in three months was to replace the batteries in the kids' toys. My list even included far-fetched ideas like touching-up the paint in the kitchen, cleaning the garage, washing my wife's car and even changing the sheets in the baby's cribs (just kidding, I did that one).

So I definitely think I blew it this year. No rationalizations or understandable explanations will bring back a failed Mother's Day. I can only pray that my first Father's Day gift will get here before the Bar and Bat Mitzvah.

Paul Kaplan is a former small business owner and current blogger. You can read more of his misadventures at www.twicethefunpa.blogspot.com.

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