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I need help

Rick Ryckeley's picture

For those long time readers of this column, me needing help should come as no surprise. After all, it’s well documented in the stories over the last twelve and a half years, and I’ll be the first to admit it.

I do need help, and I need it right now — just not in the way you may think. The status of my mental state will just have to wait and may even be the topic for a future story. Right now there’s one thing more pressing that I need help with. Or should I say two things?

While still recovering from hip surgery, I thought it might be a good idea to have major shoulder reconstruction surgery. Why not? Just get all the pain over with at the same time.

Now I didn’t say I was smart. Just thought it was a good idea. In the recovery room, the Doctor said there would be no lifting anything heavier than a coffee cup until September. By then I should be well healed and ready to handle most anything. Guess he’s never had to take care of two babies at the same time.

For all you moms out there who have twins or children within a year or two of each other, I have a question. How do you do it? I have less than four months to figure it out and, quite frankly, the thought scares me to death.

Okay, that may be a little exaggeration, but I’m quite concerned. With a 3-month-old who will need constant attention and a 15-month-old who will need constant corralling, how will I survive the entire day?

Guess I’ll need an extra pair of arms. Wonder if my orthopedic surgeon can take care of that before September?

Even while taking care of two babies, there’re some basic daily functions that somehow still have to be accomplished. First at the top of the list is eating.

Little Bit will be happy with a bottle. Little One will be happy with grilled salmon, cut bananas, peeled apples, cubed peaches, animal crackers, and water with just a touch of ice. (Just a year old and she has very discerning tastes.)

With full bellies, I’ll be happy if they’ll take naps together. Then I can grab a mouthful of leftover crackers, clean the kitchen, and get ready for the next feeding.

Second area of concern is entertainment. They won’t be interested in watching programs about stock reports, politics, travel, or even the weather channel. To them, climbing on Big Papa will be entertainment enough. Guess I could record all of those programs and watch them when they nap. That is if I’m not napping with them.

Third, clothing could become a big problem. With two babies, there’ll be twice as many shirt changes. And that’s just for me. The girls will go through twice as many bibs, shirts, pants, and skirts. Not to mention all those diapers — for them, not me.

Lastly, transportation could be a nightmare. Going anywhere will take an hour of prep work. The girls will have to be fed, burped, clothed, changed, and then changed again.

Putting shoes on Little One’s feet is a battle of wills now, one I think she will win come September.

The right toy will have to be placed with the right baby. The double stroller has to be loaded in the back of car, along with diaper bag, snacks, and the emergency kit.

At the same time, somehow, both babies have to be carried to the car and strapped in securely. I was a fire fighter for 27 years, and there’s no way one person can do that much toting of equipment, let alone babies.

To help ease my fears, we did a babysitting trial run with just Little One last weekend. Only eight weeks out from surgery, it didn’t take long for Big Papa to become exhausted and lie down on the living room floor.

I asked The Wife how, in just 10 more weeks, I could possibly be ready. Where would all the needed energy come from to babysit our two wonderful little granddaughters? That’s when the answer hit me — or should I say hugged me.

Without saying a word, Little One stopped playing with her blocks, ran over, climbed up on my chest and gave her first ever whole body hug. With both arms wrapped tightly around my neck, she held on for the longest time. Then, after a quick kiss, she ran back to her blocks. She had to defend them from the bad stuffed monkey who was getting out of hand once again.

The Wife smiled at me and said, “Guess you have your answer.”

“Guess I do,” I replied. Rejuvenated once again, I got up and went over to help with the monkey attack.

Guess The Beatles were right after all — love is all you need.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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