How many grown-ups does it take to care for a baby?
I remember how naive I was when I was expecting Cole. Parents and In-laws offered to come and stay and help out, but I wasn't sure how I would feel when the baby arrived and I wasn't sure how much privacy we'd want for our little family. So I politely declined.
Then when the little insomniac was a few days old, I found myself crying into the telephone begging anyone with a heartbeat to come and hold my baby for a short while so I could sleep. I remember it even occurred to me to stand out on the sidewalk and offer the first passer-by $20 to rock him for a bit so I could rest. In these blurry, chaotic days and nights, I wondered how it was that it only took two of us to create this baby but it obviously would take more people than that to get us through. When my sister arrived to help out, I remember thinking that four adults was just about the right number. 4:1
Now we have two kids. Amelia is nearly six months old. Cole is two years and ten months. And I was fortunate to have my mother-in-law come stay with us for the first month of Amelia's life. We kept Cole in daycare full time for 3 months and then Mark was off for the summer with us. So up until two weeks ago, I had NEVER spent an entire day alone to care for my two children. The thought of caring for both of them for an extended period of time was petrifying to me. It seemed an impossible task.
Yet here I am, two weeks in and surviving. I can pack them up in weather-appropriate garb and truck them around the neighbourhood in the double stroller. I can run errands. I can buckle both safely into the car. I can feed and clothe both in the morning. I can't bathe both of them yet, but I can leave one naked and screaming in the crib while I pluck the other soapy and slippery one out of the bath and race him to the toilet. I can use the magical power of television to comatize one while I nurse the other. I can't nap during the day any more, but I can get one to dust while I vacuum and baby bjorn the other.
I was asked by a good friend, Ali-V, if having two kids is more than twice the work of one. I said that at this juncture, caring for my two children is about 170% of the work of caring for one.
My husband tutors in the evenings and last year he re-organized his tutoring so he wouldn't leave until after our son Cole was asleep. Tonight was his first tutoring job of this school year and he asked me what time of night would be best. I surprised myself by answering, "Any time."
"Any time?" he asked.
"Yup," I said, "I can handle it."
Suddenly, I can look at the offspring that I brought into this world and safely say that I can look after both of them simultaneously. 1:2. Look how far we've come!