I don't know what it's like to be a dad. Based on my own marriage, I assume it's basically like being a mom, only with less breastfeeding and more people believing you're clueless due to stupid, baseless gender roles. I know the emotional and mental journey I began when I found out I was pregnant with my second child, but I don't know exactly what it was like for my partner. So I asked what he and other dads wish they knew before having a second kid. Because it's a lot to unpack and different points of view can only ever help.
When I asked my husband, he was characteristically pragmatic and calm. "I wish I knew right away the logistics of handling two. Because as it was we defaulted into you taking the little one a lot of the time. It was easier when we had the numbers advantage," he told me. "Especially at the end, when we actually knew what we were doing and we could tag team. There's no tag-teaming anymore. We're f*cked the day they learn to team up against us in a divide and conquer strategy." My husband isn't military or ex-military, but I swear to God he talks like a grizzled old general in a war documentary a lot of the time.
But what did other, non-Ken Burns documentary dads wish they'd known from day one about parenting two?
"That we'd no longer have a country fit for raising children ... [Also] That I'd lose the boobs (to nursing) for two years!"
[Writer's note: the wide trench dividing a very serious answer from a very silly one is why we love you, "Tom."]
"That we had it so easy as two attentive parents of a single child. You outnumber them when there's two of you and one of them! Not anymore, but at least two parents and two children are evenly matched. I don't know how parents of three or more do it without bringing in sister-wives or something."
[Writer's note: Martin and my husband could definitely chat, no? Because they're approaching this from the same angle.]
"I wish I could time travel to make force my ex-wife and I to acknowledge that we were only having another baby to try to save our marriage. We both knew it at the time, deep down, but we wouldn't admit it. I love our child, I would never wish him away, but I'll always feel sorry that we brought him into such a mess and expected him to suddenly fix it."
"That there is nothing more painful than seeing the end of diapers and sleepless nights as a glimmer on the horizon only to start with the newborn stage all over again."
[Writer's note: preach.]
"I wish I knew it'd be fun. I was sh*tting bricks before our second "oops" baby and it turns out she's actually really cool and I like being a father of two."
"I would have liked a heads up about my wife's postpartum psychosis. I had no idea that was even a thing."
[Writer's note: it is, most assuredly, a thing. It's a rare thing that will affect about one in a thousand women, but it's a thing.]
"I wish we'd known she was pregnant sooner. We didn't know until she was almost six months. We needed fertility treatments to have our first, so the possibility of getting pregnant on our own was beyond our wildest dreams. I'd always wanted two kids, but then having to psych myself up to just only ever having one for so long made having to psych myself up for having more than one really difficult and I wish I'd had a little more time to process."
"I wish I'd actually made a budget. Because damn. Money is scary."
"Whether we were having a boy or a girl. I know it's not important, but I really wanted to know. She was adamant about not finding out so I respected her wishes but damn it was frustrating."
"Every kid is different and one won't necessarily prepare you for the next. Our first baby was really tough, but we just assumed all babies were like that. When our daughter came she was so easy and it was a relief."
[Writer's note: OMG, same, Dante. My husband and I probably would have called an exorcist on our son if we'd had our laid-back daughter first. But he gaslit us into thinking his wacky baby behavior was normal because that's how they get ya!]
"What babies were like. I started dating [my wife] when she already had a 2 year old, so I'd been a parent for years, but I'd never dealt with a baby before. I kept feeling like an idiot caveman when [my wife] knew what to do and I was constantly confused, shocked and/or freaking the f*ck out."