You need three things to raise twins and a toddler.
Energy, a sense of humor and patience.
I ran out of all three Sunday night.
Jayden started screaming about a half hour after I got home from work Sunday night. I'm still not sure what set him off, but it was probably residuals from pacifier withdraw. We took it away a few weeks ago, and after a few days of him acting like a tweaker without his needles, he's beaten it for good.
Except, of course, for these midnight outbursts where he is in an unreachable state, almost like he has autism (with apologies to parents who actually have autistic kids). Nothing works with him. You just have to ride it out.
Well, his screaming fits numbered one, two, three, and on the third, he woke up both of the girls.
Now I am an introvert in the worse sense, and all that means is being around people really wears me down. On the weeknights it's not a huge deal because I know I still need to get the kids dinner and baths and bed. But Sunday I've usually spent all morning and afternoon dealing with the kids, then work is almost always really busy. So when I come home on Sundays, I'm running on fumes until I can get some alone time and get at least a little of my energy back.
This is, by far, the most difficult part of having kids for me. Energy restoration, i.e. alone time, is in short supply.
So of course, I'm still on fumes when I sighed and went to get Andie, and after a short fight, I got a bottle ready. She didn't want the bottle. I tried rocking her. It seemed to work, until I put her back in her crib.
We tried to let them cry it out, but they're teething right now (again, I'm not sure why evolution decided that having sharp things poke out from your gums one at a time for a year was a good idea), and they screamed for a good half hour.
One of the many fun things about twins is crying it out rarely works when they're both awake because they feed off each other.
So I went to pick up Andie and Kate went to get Allie and Andie fought me like a badger. Nothing would calm her down. She was too worked up, and I even dug out infant tricks like shusshing in the ear and walking and rocking, even though she's almost 14 months now, and nothing worked. I literally fought her for 15-20 minutes before Kate put a sleeping Allie in her crib. When Kate came in I handed Andie off like a football, totally frazzled, completely spent and almost insane.
And that's when Jayden started screaming again and woke Allie up.
In my Boot Camp for New Dads class I say there will be moments when you will be angry enough to hurt your children. Some prospective fathers look at me in shock. That's because they don't know. My boot camp vets, the guys with new babies, look at me and nod their heads. They know.
I don't know if I was there last night, but I was close. I went into Jayden's rooms and told him to shut the F up because he woke up his sisters AGAIN. Kate, still holding a screaming Andie, rushed in and kicked me out. She knew. It was time to leave. It's OK to feel that angry as long as you recognize it and take a time out when you do. It was time for an adult time out.
I went downstairs for a break on the couch.
Five minutes later, Kate was still struggling with both, so I went upstairs, took Andie from her, and sat. She calmed down fairly quickly, and I gave her Motrin and a bottle, and she took it, and then she went to sleep.
Tonight we start driving to Salina, Kan., my old stomping grounds and home to Kate's grandmother and the annual vacation with my in-laws. The drive, and most likely the trip, will try my patience, even when I"m on fumes. Wish me luck.
I'll need something to ensure I don't fail again like I did last night.