A while back, a friend of mine had just had his second kid and asked me if I had had any trouble with my second. Loaded question, but in short, absolutely I did.
I was only about two years ahead of his position at the time, but I told him that I went into the second kid with that “I GOT THIS” confidence and got my butt kicked. For me, it was like a video game that I had gotten really good at, leveling way up with a vast arsenal of weapons at my disposal when suddenly the game rebooted, deleting all my progress, and I was back at the start, Level 1, with only a Nerf bat to use. But I was a major general with prestige!! Surely I could rise to the challenge. But I started getting my ass handed to me. All those tricks I’d learned, everything that my first boy had taught me and I had taught him, none of it worked on Number Two. He was a different kid.
And then I received that advice from others, as if it were common knowledge – oh, all kids/babies are different. Thanks, where had this wisdom been hiding? Why hadn’t my folks prepared me for any of this? Baby Boomer parents love to watch us suffer through it like they did. This should have been a required college level AP course. But our generation is really the first generation of dudes to be this equally involved with babies. Both parents have to work to get by these days, so that means all hands on deck. You have to be able to do everything she does, guy. Okay, almost everything.
So Number Two had different designs for us. He was a different video game altogether, and only some of the tricks I had worked. Like comparing Halo to Call Of Duty. Even though it was two against two, my wife and I were now outnumbered, outflanked and constantly outwitted by a 3 year old and a newborn. We had to learn new strategies, new cheats to beat these early levels. I remember going back to the instruction manuals that helped me for the first kid – Be Prepared and Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child. Sometimes we just need someone to pat us on the shoulder and say, “Yup, this sucks again, buddy.” Sometimes you need a little help leveling up that Nerf bat to the power of a fully operational battle station.
Sure, the second kid has its perks. You’re comfortable with the football hold. The first one survived, so you’re not afraid of breaking the second one. A little dirt in the mouth didn’t hurt. You’re already programmed to buy baby food and diapers whenever passing a grocery store. You’re okay knowing that you’ll have to be as celibate as a cardinal for a month or two, and then things should pick up again. And when the second tiny voice calls you “Dada,” it melts you as much as the first. If you got to a place of seeming normalcy after the first, after life changed quite a bit, you’ll get there again with the second. Sometimes you just have to keep swinging that Nerf bat until you make contact again.
Featured Products in this story:
Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads
by Gary Greenberg (Author), Jeannie Hayden (Author)
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
by Marc Weissbluth M.D. (Author)
(Mind of the Modern Man did not receive any promotional consideration for this story)