The boy will be two in January. This single-digit number has very quickly snuck up with every passing day and every new thing this child has learned. He’s mastered walking forwards and backwards, can climb stairs and furniture, is able to feed himself with a spoon or fork without getting too much on the floor1, can count from 7 to 10 properly and read every number from one to ten just fine, and — interestingly enough — has the wherewithal to quickly mimic what people around him are doing and saying. Like a lot of people his age, his mind is a sponge and is busy making sense of the world. Watching this person go from a blank slate to a semi-autonomous entity is much more interesting now than it was three decades ago when my mother was having children every two years. All this aside, keeping up with this tiny person has been quite the challenge. He just won’t stop talking nonsense with his limited vocabulary and non-existent grammar.

How is it that parents are able to maintain any semblance of sanity when raising multiple children? Is the time away from the house the only thing keeping them sane? How do people who work from home manage it? These are questions I think about when the boy, who has just recently entered his “No!” stage of development, is cooperating about as much as a typhoon in September. For him the day is a nonstop party full of new and interesting things. For me the day is a myriad of cleanups interspersed with headaches, sore ears, work expectations, and half-heard conversations.

In a decade or so the rose-tinted glasses will make this time seem a lot easier than it is. Here in the moment, however, I am amazed by parents who can manage multiple children, the household responsibilities, a job, and anything else that pops up. Extra kudos to the single parents who don’t have a spouse to help out.

  1. Usually.