My name is John. I am a human alarm clock, a firefighter, a peace officer, a cook, a teacher, a husband, a photographer, a chauffeur, and a laundry service. In short, I'm a stay-at-home dad of three.
I wanted one, maybe two kids. If anyone would have told me I'd be a dad of three, I wouldn't have believed them. Who can afford three kids these days? Who has time to take care of three kids? With three, you and your wife are outnumbered. It's mayhem. Not me. Not us -- and that's for sure.
My wife, Christina, wanted the third. She wailed for months about how her life wouldn't be complete without a third. She went so far as to say she had a dream one night that there was another baby sitting up on a cloud somewhere, trying to find her way down to us.
So here I am. At least when they were babies, I could take a nap when they did. I worked when they napped. They didn't complain when I served them strained peas.
Having my children nearly five years apart means that they are all in different schools and need to be awakened and driven at different times. These days, my life is like the movie Groundhog Day, only four times in a single day.
My daughter, the cloud-sitter, is the most trying in the morning. She tries on three or four outfits before pronouncing them all "horrible." I attempt to watch YouTube videos demonstrating various types of braids, so I can get her hair just right. My efforts usually end in tears -- mine, not hers! I must promise to watch the video while she is in school, so as to get it right the next day. For the next five hours, I squeeze in cleaning up, a shower, working on my photography, grocery shopping, and laundry.
The arrivals home are staggered like the departures. The oldest arrives first, and the homework parade begins. While I am cooking dinner, I hear my daughter screaming that my middle son is in her room, so I need to go make peace. After he complains that he is "bored," he goes in his room to make some kind of electrical project which has on occasion caused him to run out yelling "FIRE!" While I am putting out the fire, I will hear banging in the backyard, where his brother is building a fort -- with wood he got from my deck. "You said you were going to tear it down someday, right?" he asks, innocently.
When I was in the throes of colic and 2:00 a.m. feedings, I told myself it had to get easier. But now, I see the truth: It was easier when they were babies. It's twice as hard now. Twice -- times three. But you know what? It's also three times the joy, three times the pride, and three times as much love. And I wouldn't have it any other way.