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Riding the roller coaster on Father's Day

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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I've had parents tell me they didn't really become a parent until they had two. Well, this Father's Day I am officially a parent. My daughter, Ella Grace, was born on my father's birthday just three months ago. She joins her 2-year-old brother, Zachary. Life with two children under age 3 is very challenging. It can be summed up in the comfort of the Darius Rucker country song, "Won't be Like This for Long." Besides the obvious two sets of diapers, a new monster stroller for two and two sets of completely different feeding regiments, there are the many things that go awry. What do you do when you have to use both hands to get the baby's car seat out of the vehicle while keeping hold of a toddler who is ready to run around a busy parking lot? Who do you attend to when both kids are screaming at the same time and you want a break yourself? What happens when bath time blows out primetime? How do you explain to a jealous child that you can't spend as much quality time with him because his baby sister has needs as well? It reminds me of the roller coaster speech given by Grandma in the movie, "Parenthood" starring Steve Martin. "A ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together," she said in the movie. "Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it." Perhaps grandma was right. I really believe the challenging times make the good times even better. My wife and I have wondered “how could we possibly have enough love in our heart for two.” Now, a wellspring of profound feelings has emerged. The love for a daughter has taken on a life of its own for me. From her little dress onesies to her developing new smile, I catch myself slow dancing with my baby in the dark. Zach and I, on the other hand, have a different type of relationship. It's more about piggy back rides, reading and more rough housing. This year, I find myself thinking more about Mother's Day than Father's Day. Their mother, my wife, now has to figure out how to ease the tears of three crying babies. It's hard to quantify how challenging two young children can be, but I seem to always find my wife making it all better. It’s like she was born for motherhood. As a stay-at-home dad, I'm preparing for Mom to end her maternity leave and be away from home for eight hours each workday. Soon I'll be on that roller coaster, but I know at the end of the day that my wife will be home to lift me up. Happy Father's Day, guys. Enjoy the roller coaster, but don't forget the woman who helps you look better than you deserve.