I don’t know what’s considered a “normal” age to have children but I’d say my wife and I are considered “older” first-time parents. My wife was 40 when she gave birth to our first child and 42 when our second arrived. And since she’s a self-employed business owner, receiving no government assistance while at home with a baby, I took six months parental leave from my job to be with both of our children.
In retrospect I can say that being there 24/7 for the first six months of our first child’s life was a walk in the park. She was breast fed so there wasn’t a hell of a lot I could do around meal times. I’d go running, swimming, work out at the gym several times a week. In fact I can boast that normal regimen back then saw me running about 12-15kms 4x a week and swimming 7500 meters per week. I was in the best shape of my life having lost 30 pounds by the time I returned to work. How much weight did I lose this time? I gained 5 pounds.
When our second child arrived this past May I again took six months Parental Leave to be at home with our new addition. I was prepared to go running, swimming, working out at the gym and finish all those awesome art-related projects I’d been putting off. Now ask me how much of that I’ve accomplished. Butkus. In all my preparation I forgot to factor in that when you’re left alone watching two kids you have zero time for much else. When you’re with one you’re constantly wondering what the other is up to. I learned fast that they both require 100% of my time!
My wife went back to work three months after giving birth to our second child. So, having nearly reached the end of my six months off, I’ve been on my own for nearly three months with the two kids. I wish I could say its been a walk in the park but let’s just say that I’ve got a new respect for stay-at-home moms (and dads)!
I’m certainly not saying that had anyone told me before we had our second child that it would be this hard I would have changed my opinion on having more than one kid. I firmly stand by our decision to have two but I wished someone had gone into more detail about the sacrifice one makes when raising kids. I know you get your “me” time back after a while but when you’re just starting out in the kiddy set and you’re already in your forties (very early forties) what will I be interested in by the time I do have time to myself? Lawn bowling? Stamp collecting?? Playing chess in the park???
I love my kids. I need them like I need air. But they’ve changed me. I haven’t much a sense of a “me” anymore. Just more an “us”. It’s not a bad thing but I feel like I’m saying goodbye to someone I once knew. When I go back to work in a couple of weeks I’ll be going back a different person.
What’s most ironic is that the insanity and chaos of my job is probably what will save me.