As I wind down my second paternity leave, I feel pretty much not much from the dread of returning to work, and a lot of anxiety at the uncertainty of what life is going to be like in the coming weeks. I went into this paternity leave feeling burned out and exasperated from the combination of a job that I’d soured on plus the rigors of parenting two under two. I conclude my paternity leave feeling burned out and exasperated, except this time there is no work to blame for the overflow of stress and in fact, I’m going back to it.
I had hoped that taking the working part out of the equation would alleviate a lot of pressures of daily life of parenting, but things just didn’t really work out that way, much to my disappointment. A vast combination of parenting factors, such as sleep issues with #2 that are wildly inconsistent and persistent, #1 entering a very precarious stage in her life where basically everything is a hair trigger to a crying meltdown, the fact that I have basically little to no help on a regular basis, and have spent an inordinate amount of hours doing double duty on both kids at the same time.
Most every day over the last twelve weeks has had at least one instance where I get upset or exasperated, and by now I’m often feeling so over parenting and as I’ve said numerous times, just want a single day where I can not have to be a parent so that I can appropriately recharge, but know it’ll never happen because my circumstances are precarious and difficult for anyone to really handle plus I don’t trust anyone to do all the ungodly amount of chores and tasks I do on a daily basis as well as I do.
Make no mistake, I feel like shit and am endlessly guilty admitting to all of this, but inherently therein lies just how difficult the journey of life with two children under the age of two is, and made more difficult in the midst of an endless pandemic where we can’t send #1 off to daycare or have a larger pool of people to trust with child care that isn’t the family that lives 3-10 hours away from us.
But at the same time, I’m not going to sugar coat it, lie and say everything is fine, because it most definitely isn’t. Parenting is hard. Parenting two kids is even harder, especially when I’m having to do it on my own as often as I do. Multiply that by difficult behaviors, a lack of sleep, no breaks or times to unwind, and you have me. Obviously, it would be arrogant to think that I am a genuinely unique instance as dads throughout history have undoubtedly matched my circumstances if not worse countless times, but I sure as shit don’t know anyone who is or has, in my little bubble of life.
I don’t have enough help. My wife and I do not have enough help. The state we live in, in the country it resides in, isn’t doing enough to help us much less themselves, based on the rise of Omicron and the endless existence of coronavirus. Child care is expensive and bleeding us, especially since the last six weeks of my leave were the unpaid portion of it. I really didn’t want to go unpaid for six weeks, but the needs of my children still come first, and seeing as how we still have no fucking clue to what’s going to happen once both mythical wife and I are both working, there is no light at the end of the tunnel right now.
I want to enjoy the last moments of this leave with my second child as I did with my first, but it’s proving to be difficult to do so. Time is never on our side, and I am always against a clock somewhere for some reason. Again, it sucks balls writing all of this out and admitting to just how upset I’ve gotten more than I like to admit, but shit, life has been hard, and there’s no reason to deny it. One of these days, I hope that it won’t be as much so, but I’m definitely struggling to navigate things beyond a few hours of each day at a time.
Maybe in the near-to-distant future, or later on down the line when this post shows up on my On This Day, I’ll re-read posts like this and cringe at just how stupid I sounded, because life then will be so much better, or hopefully not, still be in this depressing state in the future. But true to the brog, this is where I am at in this juncture of time, and shit ain’t easy. And with going back to work on the near horizon, it probably won’t be getting any simpler any time soon.