By: Heather Somaini
We were at an event this past weekend with friends from all walks of life. Straight, gay, married, single –but the most differentiating factor was “with or without” kids. Kids seem to separate the men from the boys a bit. I don’t mean to disparage any “non-kid having people” but honestly nothing is as stressful on your life or your relationships as much as kids. Well, maybe a life-altering accident or an alien invasion but barring something like that…
I’ve tried to explain this to smart, accomplished people with lots of kids in their lives (but none of their own) but it’s completely unfathomable until you have them. Before kids, I really thought I had asked all the right questions and experienced as much as I could. But I hadn’t. I had no idea. I was clueless. I’ve said that having kids is the most amazing and most horrible experience of my life. There’s no middle ground. No grey. It’s life at the extremes.
Before kids our roles were fairly fluid except for the things I’ve mentioned before. Everyone knows that Tere would rather I drive, open doors, and order wine. Other than those three, everything else was pretty much fair game. After kids though, everything adjusts. With one kid, it’s relatively easy for two parents to sort of switch off and on, with one taking care of the baby/kid and the other doing other things. With twins, you’re both sort of required to pitch in at all times. Before I knew it, our roles and responsibilities were quickly divided up. We each had our chores, things we did best and situations where we excelled. Well I use “excelled” loosely because I fear we didn’t do much well. It was more like a
well-you’re-not-as-bad-at-that-as-I-am-so-you-should-do-it sort of deal.
One of those areas we recognized quickly was doctor’s visits. At about two months the first set of shots was required. The nurse and the doctor had done their “stuff” and the needles came out. I don’t remember exactly how the scene was set – remember, that first year and especially the first three months are very foggy. The nurse told me to hold the baby down for the shot. That seemed easy and I made funny faces and we were having fun. Then she gave him the shot. His poor little face couldn’t believe anyone would hurt him so terribly with no warning. His mouth opened, his eyes squeezed tightly shut and I waited. Because we all know there’s a slight delay between the physical machinations of a cry and the actual noise of a cry. He finally let loose screaming. In the meantime, that terribly sadistic nurse was able to get all his shots done. I put the rest of his clothes back on and turned to sit down in the chair to comfort him.
Tere was sitting in the chair with our daughter. She didn’t move. I really expected her to stand up and let the nurse give our daughter her shots. She didn’t move. Our son was still crying valiantly in my arms, our daughter wasn’t looking too happy about what was clearly about to happen to her and my wife just stared at me with gigantic tears welling up in her eyes. She didn’t move. She didn’t speak.
I asked her if she would prefer it if we switched babies. She nodded her head affirmatively. We switched babies and I did it all over again. Again that little face trusted me and then couldn’t believe I would allow something so terrible to happen to her. Painful. For me.
From that day forward, I “did” shots. Tere does not do shots.
There are lots of things that are now clearly delineated between the two of us. I rarely grocery shop and I never cook. It took me awhile but eventually I realized that Tere shows us her love when she cooks so I don’t even try. She buys all the kids’ clothes, shops for toys, and always has snacks. Tere organizes play dates, books dance and swim classes, and makes up stories to tell the kids while they fall asleep.
Come to think of it, what do I do? Oh right, I do shots.