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My inner Greg

by Barry L. Levy

Last weekend, my wife was away on a girls weekend and I did what I always do when I have all three kids on my own.

I run them into the ground.

Personally, I’ve always been the guy who likes being active and so I figure maybe they’ll  enjoy it as well.

My wife and I don’t always see eye to eye on this. She worries that I am overstimulating them. I worry that when I don’t, they’re understimulated.

We might have a slight difference in parenting style.

And let me assuage any fears (at least my wife’s fears), this is not an “I told you so” sort of attack.

Although my way did work. Now I’m not saying, I’m just saying . . .

Seriously though, what happened last weekend may have less to do with our grand debate and more to do with harnessing my inner Greg.

I’ll explain.

We met our friends Greg and Jamie shortly after we had our twins at a special Mommy & Me class for families with multiples. One look across the room, it was immediately clear that the class could be divided into two categories: (1) moms who looked like they’d just been hit by a bus and (2) couples who looked as if they had been hit by that same bus.

And then there was Jamie. While the rest of us sat in a circle suffering from severe sleep-deprivation, she pleasantly announced that her twins were already sleeping through the night.

What I remember most in that moment was the chorus of parents coughing in unison, “Bitch,” directly after Jamie’s declaration. Then again, it may have just been me.

To my wife’s credit, she has always gravitated toward others with whom she sensed she might learn something. A fast friendship was formed. Only let’s be clear, it wasn’t simply that Jamie had sleep trained her duo in less than ten weeks, but they knew the alphabet by their first birthday . . . her older son apparently was a card carrying member of Mensa, curing cancer and reading encyclopedia volumes at age 3. And they made it look so easy.

That’s when Jamie’s husband, Greg, entered the picture. I first met him at their house as they invited us over for dinner. With our 4 babies lined up in car seats it appeared as though this would be the sort-of-hastily thrown together dinner you can imagine 4 sleep deprived folks having. Only, it wasn’t a hastily thrown together anything.

It was gourmet. Or at least far more gourmet than it should’ve been. And I’m not just talking about the chicken dish, the recipe for which we have subsequently co-opted and impressed others with . . . or the two dozen beer options and the wine they already had breathing!

It was everything.

For a time, that kind of freaked me out. Why were they going overboard? That was my thought. Maybe I was still recovering from the bus-impaling affair of twin babies, but it just seemed a bit over the top to go all out for a night in.

Only that’s where I missed the boat. See, as a couple, we would (and still do) go all out to go out to dinner. But those are the only times we’ll get dressed nicely. Frankly, as a writer, there are days I don’t always need to get dressed at all. Pajamas are just fine.

But once you have kids those moments of getting out aren’t as frequent. They require planning, babysitters, frankly, just energy reserves that at times wain.

Greg and Jamie had the benefit of having one kid to work themselves into groove before getting hammered by twins. We did not. And so without that easing in process, more often than not, you try and force the round peg of life-before-kids into the square-hole-of-life-after-little-ones. You don’t realize that the old way you did things may not work anymore. One minute you’re going out to nice dinners with friends any night of the week, or every night of the week. The next you’re so overtired that you hold the phone to your ear to order pizza without even dialing (true story).

Or you’re just sitting there with a milk bottle in your newborn baby’s ear wondering why she’s not drinking (sad, but also true). Overnight, everything changed in our lives and it took time for me to recognize as much.

Just as it took time for me to recognize the merit of Greg’s philosophy. They too had three kids in three years (same as us), and yet they knew how to make their moments off-the-clock count. Or at least look like they did. One look at their home office and you’re shocked at all the books they’ve actually read. Not just filled their shelves with, but read.

One look in their wine cellar (they have one) and it’s clear they’ve identified what they like and they enjoy it.

Time is fleeting. I know this. And we’ve tried to learn from their example. I try to harness my inner Greg. We have collected a few wines. Sort of. Does boxed wine count? I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

My wife’s gotten into reading (less inspired by Greg and more by Fifty Shades of Grey). And my wife and I will, from time to time, find those special spontaneous moments with which to fully shut down and embrace our time alone, like last night. But it is hard.

So that’s why this weekend, when I was on my own, I didn’t just try to summon my inner Greg, or my M.I.G. to sound completely absurd, I reached out for the real thing.

I set a plan to spend Sunday afternoon with their family. Feed my kids and bring the little ones home in pajamas and (hopefully) asleep.

Thinking ahead, I took the kids to the supermarket with the intention of picking up some gourmet dessert and beer en route, only to watch the dessert ever so gracefully slide right out of the box before we even made it to check out.

Some much for grand intentions.

But no sooner did we walk in the door than we were greeted with Jamie’s announcement that dessert had already been made:  chocolate lasagna. With no idea what that was, all I kept thinking was . . . ahhhhh . . . I’m home.

In truth, the weekend was amazing. Start to finish. We swam, went out for breakfast, put together a dance video for Mom, went to three different homes for playdates. Hell, I even managed a nap while the kids watched a movie.

But the highlight was that perhaps there was no singular highlight. In slowing down, in enjoying the moments . . . each and every one (I could’ve done without the Saturday at 5am moment, but what are you going to do) . . . I found ways to make memories of the routine moments of every day.

To harness my inner Greg.

And I’m better for it.

Barry L. Levy

About Barry L. Levy

Barry Levy is a husband. A father. A writer. His "credits" include Noa, Jordan, Ben. His writing credits include Vantage Point & Paranoia. Follow him on Twitter @barryllevy

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