Stress is measured on two different levels for me — professional and personal.
No question in my mind, it’s the personal stress that eats me up the most, particularly the pressures that come with the hectic nature of parenting two toddlers.
I attribute it to the fact I have been working a lot longer than parenting and that I cope better with the stress involving my work than with being a parent at this point in my life.
I have long thought being a stay-at-home parent is the toughest job in the world, and yes I consider it work on many levels.
Coming to my work in a typically quiet office is easy compared to dealing with the normally rambunctious antics of two toddlers who require nearly constant attention.
With my boys, ages 4 and 3, there is no relaxation time. If they are awake, they seek attentiveness and they demand it at times by being surprisingly aggressive. That has been known to stress me out, particularly if I am trying to multi-task.
During the times when we simply need a breather or something else is requiring our attention, things can get a little hairy and that’s when they often find trouble.
Unfortunately, they are not at the age currently we can put a coloring book, puzzle, game or toy in front of them and let them do their thing. That’s always followed by some requests for help, although we know they can do it without us.
When they play together, it inevitably ends in a fight, sometimes physical but most of the time just immature arguing over sharing, touching and sometimes even smiling. That sort of stuff often plays out even if we are partaking in whatever game we are playing as well, and I find that sort of behavior a true test of patience.
A recent situation comes to mind to illustrate the point. I was in the other room when Beckett came running to me screaming his head off. When I asked him to calm down and tell me what was going on, he said, “Carson keeps smiling at me.”
I don’t even remember what I said in return, but I’m sure it was something along the lines of questioning why that was bothering him. He responded, “just make him stop, please. I said please.”
When I got over to the grinning Carson, I found out what was getting under Beckett’s skin. Apparently, Carson had managed to get a hold of Beckett’s water coloring pen and decided he wanted to sit on it to keep it away from his big brother, who refused to tell me that for some reason.
Other circumstances further illustrate the point.
On Election Day, I came home for a long lunch so Pam could go and vote. It was only about a half hour but it seemed like three hours.
While she was gone, I put Carson down for his afternoon nap, but not before he thought it would be a fun idea to run head first into my leg, only it wasn’t my leg and it sent me down to a knee as a result.
While masking my pain, knowing if both kids thought I was hurt it would send them into hysterics, Carson laughed and laughed and even pointed his finger at me while his other hand covered his mouth in a fashion that was anything but hilarious to me.
Once I quickly got the little guy down for his nap, I couldn’t find Beckett anywhere in the house, but I could hear him singing. It turns out nature was calling in a major way and singing the old school “Spiderman” theme song apparently appealed to him while he was at it.
I gave him his privacy while I ate my lunch until I heard him screaming for me. Somehow he had managed to drop the toy he was holding into the potty and he demanded I fish it out.
Out of fear that the toilet would clog, I did but had to first launch into a lesson in germs and explain why the toy had to now be thrown away.
If it was something valuable, I would not have just tossed it, but it was a Happy Meal toy that in my mind did not justify a massive sanitization effort.
When I went back to work after Pam arrived, I realized I had sweat through my shirt and somehow managed to lose my sunglasses.
Later in the night at bath time the sunglasses turned up in the shower of all places.
Beckett just smiled and smiled, leading me to understand why he was so upset earlier when Carson would not stop smiling at him.
Carson turned 3 years old this week.
At his age, I think birthdays are really more for the parents and family as far as the celebrations go. While he had a ball at his party at the zoo, particularly crushing some cake and eating what seemed like an entire bag of chips, it was really just another day for him.
Contrary to his older brother, Carson does not crave the spotlight and has a wonderful “I’m just happy to be here” mentality. He is typically laidback and lovable, but at the same time he has an indomitable will that shows itself each day.
Carson is not speaking yet, and Pam and I, of course, are concerned and worried, as all parents would be, but he is getting all the services he needs to find his speech and is showing progress.
On the good days and the bad days, I have faith he will find his way because he shows me daily how strong he is and how hard he is willing to work to overcome whatever is before him. He will speak some day. He has already achieved so much and I am so proud to be his dad every day, particularly on his birthday.