Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Becoming Jim Bob

I finally understand Jim Bob.

Jim Bob Duggar from the TV show "18 Kids and Counting" could surely be enshrined in the Paternal Pantheon of the Prolifically Potent. As the name of his show suggests, his family has 18 kids and then some. What would drive a man to want 18+ children? The food bill alone would be enough to make Bill Gates start clipping coupons. So why does he do it?

Well, now that the twins are here, I am responsible for a family of almost-reality show sized proportions. And finally I understand why Jim Bob does it. What I haven't figured out is how to explain it.

You may have heard your friends compare being a parent to being a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. For those of you have heard this from your friends let me be perfectly clear: your friends are hillbillies. But those hillbillies you call friends are right. Being a parent is a constant scramble to keep balance and kick butt.

Having newborn twins, however, is nothing like being the afore mentioned mono-pod and his misplaced athletic interests. After all, as unfortunate as his disability may be, he does have the one leg. With newborn twins, you simply have NO useful appendages. Every possible limb is consumed in the relentless labor of keeping those two mouths fed and those two butts wiped. One of my favorite Far Side comics involves a man who, while looking into a mirror, discovers he has grown a mouth on his forehead. In disgust this bewildered man mutters "Great, another mouth to feed." For some reason, every time we have a child, this image goes through my mind.

As a new father of multiples I have found the most daunting aspect to twins is the logistics. Have you ever tried picking up a newborn baby with one arm? It is like trying to pick up a squishy bowling ball without using any of the finger-holes. I find myself setting the kids down and picking them back up again just so I can practice. Have you ever tried carrying two full car seats without hitting the frame of every door you pass through? Have you ever tried cramming three car seats into the back of a mini-van? Lets just say the three older kids are really getting closer now that half of the arms on their car seats have been removed.

Newborn twins also have a domino-effect impact on the other that can cause no shortage of consternation. For example, the other night I had changed their diapers, gotten them into their pajamas, fed them, burped them and gotten them to sleep when the twin boy let out a small cry as I set him down. This small cry caused his sister to grunt. This simple grunt created just enough force to get her to explode in her pants. This meant I had to change her diaper again and in the process of changing her diaper, she cried enough to wake up her sleeping brother. Thus with one small cry and I went from having two sleeping children to two wide-awake cry babies—half of them poopy. It is like the butterfly effect, only I always end up elbow deep in crap.

The twins also enjoy going for the hat trick as much as possible, where during one diaper change they manage to poop on me, pee on me and spit up on my one decent tie. They are like the Wayne Gretski's of bodily fluids.

And if you think I have it bad, you should see my wife. Not only is she still recovering from major surgery—not to mention spending nine months carrying around enough children in her belly to be considered a litter—but she is also the one responsible for feeding this thirsty brood. And being the true pioneer stock that she is, she is insistent on nursing them. This has turned her into the very personification of Las Vegas: a 24/7 topless buffet.

And yet I could not be more happy. You see, what me and the other Jim Bob's of the world have found is that happiness is not purchased, it is born and raised. The true measure of a man is not found in the soft leather seats of a sleek sports car; it is found in the torn up seats of a mini-van filled to the brink with your own children. There is no trophy you can hold that can match the joy of holding your newborn children. There is simply no law, no foundation, no organization, no governmental body that can have as profound an impact on society as one well-raised child. And I've got five of them.



I have included a great video produced by the Mormon Church about one amazing father. It does a good job of driving home my point (assuming my ramblings even have a point). I encourage you to check it out and promise you that watching it will not result in your conversion to the church. You will not come away renouncing coffee and wearing a "Joseph Smith is My Homeboy" T-shirt.(Unless you want to, in which case I know some missionaries who can totally hook you up.) It is just an inspiring message that will make men want be better and women want to marry garbage collectors. Seriously.