“We’re having twins.”
“Hello? Are you there?”
For the most part, that’s how the phone call went with my wife the day she told me we were having twins. It was a lot to take in. Can I do this? How are we going to do this? And to be honest, how are we going to afford this? Maybe not a question you want to admit to asking yourself, but it’s real and don’t be afraid to ask it. Trust me; you can, because as a parent, you figure it out.
Once the initial shock and awe, I mean excitement wore off! After we told our family and friends, my wife and I sat down to planning, including the unexpected. You’ll never be able to be completely prepared, it’s impossible, but knowing the unexpected will happen, you’ll be better prepared to roll with the punches. Since we were having twins, planning was necessary. Our girls came two months early, we had to go to an out of town hospital and stay in hotel. See, what we did when we found out we were having twins, we realized money might be tight, so, we took my wife’s salary and put in it a savings account. It was our way of answering that question, how are we going to afford this. We lived on an adjusted income, similar to one we would be working with when my wife was on maternity leave.
Planning was also important when it came to feeding, sleeping, feeding and sleeping (sorry flashback) and really everyday life. Our ability to plan served us well when the girls were born and continues to serve us well. Our approach to planning may be very different from time to time, but one thing I’ve learned is compromise. I think it’s fair to say we both struggled with this when the girls were born and today. We’re both a “bit” stubborn. Men often hear the saying “happy wife, happy life” I’m not a fan. To me, it implies the husband can’t be happy. I much prefer, “pick your battles.” Being a parent is tough enough, and sometimes having differing opinions on how things should be handled is okay, but finding a compromise in the end is good for the kid(s) and really for both of you. Listen, it’s not going to be perfect, it will be tough and you’ll argue, but remember you’re equal partners and you’ll have to pick your battles. That’s how we did it and continue to do it.
Dads, be prepared you and your life will change (for the better, I might add). Look, you’re still going to go out with the boys, play hockey on Tuesdays at 11pm (you’ll be tired) and watch Schwarzenegger movies. But remember, you’ll need to help with feeding, changing diapers and bath time. As much as these can be frustrating and mundane, I can still remember spit up with laughter at supper, food covered faces, poop explosions and they still make me laugh. There will come a day when your partner needs a day or two. Make sure they get it. Be present, be a Dad. It’s so rewarding, you’re better for it. So is your partner. You’re going to mess up, learn from it, mess up again and learn from that.
I remember leaving the hospital and saying to my wife, I feel like we should have a licence to have kids. After the first night I thought, I can do this. The third night, I can’t do this. This back and forth still happens today. My girls are 5 now and with the help of my wife, I can do this and really want to do this.
I’ll share one last piece of advice, a rule my wife and I had. Whatever, we said to each other when the sun went down, was forgotten when the sun came back up.