Having three kids in two years means I’ve heard some variation of “you’re supermom!” more times than I can count. (See also, “you must be a saint”, “one kid is hard enough!”, and general looks of bafflement when I explain their ages and spacing.)
It also means that I get asked, “How do you do it all?”. A lot. How do I wash the floors, make dinner, get anywhere ever at all on time, take a shower, get three toddlers in and out of the car, write blog posts, keep up with family photos, wash and fold laundry, scrub the toilets, put on makeup, wash dishes, stay any sort of organized, go grocery shopping, or maintain my sanity?
Of course, the clear answer is: I don’t.
I don’t do it all.
First and foremost: I don’t have a job outside of the home. Period. In some ways I am very lucky and in others it was a “choice” I was forced into (hello astronomical daycare costs for three small children). But the bottom line is that I am a stay-at-home mom. I don’t have to balance a career life with a home life. Sure, sometimes it’s a bit monotonous to be more or less all home all the time, but having a career outside of three kids right now sounds like it’s own sort of crazy, so here we are.
The house? We have a cleaning service once a month. (And that's a birthday gift from my in-laws. Feel free to hate me.) Sure there are still plenty of things to keep up with on a daily basis, (Crumbs and fingerprints: where do they all come from? Please explain.), but at least when the you-know-what hits the fan, I know my kitchen will be clean at least once a month. For a few seconds, at least.
We have our people. My parents live nearby, we have other family and neighbors and friends that are able to pitch in if we really need help. If I’m sick my mom can usually come over to watch the kids. Heck, she’ll come over if I’m three weeks past desperate for a haircut. I have a mommy’s helper that comes one afternoon a week, we have neighbors whose kids love to play with our kids.
But the real reason I can hold it all together? My husband. Daddy. He’s the other person, the second set of hands, the equal partner in this relationship. I don’t do it alone. He’s the one who makes sure the garbage can gets put out every Thursday night, the recycling bin every other Thursday night, unloads the dishwasher each morning, preps my coffee, mows the lawn, keeps three kids away from the stove while I make dinner, and kills bugs before I have a panic attack.
How do I get ready in the morning with three kids around? I don’t. Those first morning hours see him getting up with the kids, making their breakfast, and attending to their potty and diapering needs while I get up to shower or otherwise throw myself together (#yaydryshampoo). Thank goodness, because if it were left up to me and those 6 am early birds, I would have experienced approximately zero showering in the past three years.
He spent the first year of the twins’ lives going to each and every doctor appointment, because there was no way I was tackling that alone with two infants when they needed shots.
We’re lucky enough that he works from home right now. If I desperately need him to watch a kid or two while I take the third to the doctor, or we just got outside and suddenly a toddler needs to run back in to pee, or in the moments where I was exhausted and just couldn’t take it anymore because the baby just wouldn’t go down for his nap, he’s able to rearrange his schedule or step out for five minutes to lend a hand. This past week I took the boys to get haircuts and left Brooklyn behind, and she played on her tablet in Daddy’s office while he continued to work. It's not that he's doing the most stellar parenting in these moments, but having the option to leave one behind, one less little body for me to deal with, is an amazing luxury right now.
And writing? Not only did he gift me a year of creativity (good one, hon), but he gives me the time and space to write, by taking over childcare duties for hours at a time on the weekends, cleaning up the house in the evening when I need to get something out of my mind and onto the page, and not batting an eye when he walks into a room and is greeted with “I can’t talk get out of here now” as I tap away at my laptop.
On more than one occasion I have gone to an event: a party, a baby shower, whatever, and had people greet me with the utmost surprise, “Oh, you’re here! Where are the children?” Uh...with my husband? Y’know, their dad? The other parent. One woman was truly astounded that I came to attend a party and left my husband home alone with all three children. I’m not sure what that says about her own marital and home life, but what I wanted to say was, “Lady, when I left all three of them were NAPPING! I think he’ll be just fine!” Not only is he fully capable and qualified, but he's just as astounded as I am to be confronted with these questions.
So here’s to you Tyson, and to all of the other dads out there who are taking over everything from diaper duty to nighttime wake-up calls. The thing is, we’ve always been in this whole parenting thing together. I mean, we kind of had to with that whole twins thing and all. To-get-up-or-not-to-get-up for those nighttime feedings and marathon rocking sessions wasn’t exactly a choice for either of us. If one was up, all of us were up. But you didn’t shirk away from it the third time around, either. You got up every time with Nolan, too. Every. Time. You never said that it was my job because I was the one who had to feed him or that you had to work tomorrow (as if I didn’t). You got up, you did the work, and you parented, right there along with me.
We don’t always agree on every single little parenting decision, but I’ve never felt alone in any of it. We’re both in the trenches, every day. We’re both tired, sometimes beaten down, but we’re here, together, ready to do it all again the next day.
So how do I do it all?
How did I go out to brunch with my friends last weekend? Because daddy is home with the kids.
How did I possibly put on makeup and brush my hair this morning? Because it's daddy's job to get up with the kids and feed them breakfast.
How did I find the time to write this essay? Because my husband asked me what I needed this weekend and I told him I needed to get out of the house for a few hours. So I did.
I’m not alone. I’ve never been alone. I don’t do it alone.
Happy Father’s Day, babe. Let’s keep up the good work together.
All photos credit to Prall Photography.