Starting Over: Previously childfree home now resembles Daddy Daycare



The act of adjusting; adaptation to a particular condition, position, or purpose.

Yeah, I guess that’s one way of putting it.

But it just doesn’t seem to capture the enormity of how life changes when you find your once empty nest is suddenly filled with two extraordinary young people.

Extraordinarily energetic. Extraordinarily loud. Extraordinarily fast. Extraordinarily messy.

It was as if my peaceful, long-awaited childfree home — Susie and I raised four children of our own — suddenly resembled Daddy Daycare on steroids.

It will test even the strongest of wills.

Caleb wasn’t quite two when he joined us. He was still in diapers. He hadn’t been weaned from his bottles. He slept in a crib.

Do you know how hard it is to remember to take a diaper bag with you again when it had been 20 years since you needed one? We usually remembered about halfway to whatever destination we were already late for. Sometimes a friendly reminder from Caleb jogged our memory. Odors will do that.

And I know for a fact that he will be an incredible Easter egg hider because he’s been in training since the day he moved in with us. Back then it was his bottles. We would find them hidden in the strangest places. Sometimes days and even weeks later. Sometimes with milk still in them. Or what used to be milk.

We threw out a lot of bottles.

These days it is mostly shoes and socks. He takes them off wherever he feels like taking them off. There was a new pair of sandals a couple of months ago that Caleb hid. Susie and I looked everywhere. Under beds, couches and other furniture. We looked in the car and in the garage. We finally gave up. We figured maybe he ate them.

Turns out my lawnmower is really good at finding sandals, especially when they’re hidden in some of the taller grass in the backyard.

Oh well. At least I found them.

Another adjustment I had to make was not to assume that lots and lots of laughter from two toddlers equates to innocent fun and joy.

Oh, it CAN mean fun and joy. Just not innocent.

It happened not long after they arrove here. I was doing some paperwork and they were in Caleb’s room, with the door closed, just laughing and laughing. I smiled, and imagined they were playing with some toy or something, just thrilled to be here.

Stuff like that.

Silly, silly me.

After a few minutes I got up and, with phone in hand ready to take a picture of these two wonderful kids, a picture we’d look back on and smile as we remembered this wonderful moment, I opened the door.

They were running around, and they were happy, but for some reason that took me a moment to comprehend, it was snowing. Inside the room. And they were covered in it. And so was the furniture. And the rug. And every square inch of everything else.

Only it wasn’t snow. And I knew it wasn’t snow as soon as I saw the large – really large – and open – container of baby powder in Izzy’s hand. A hand that was flinging said container as they ran.

“Hi, Papa!” they said.

Now, they had never seen an adult turn purple before. Not in real life. And it scared them a little. And they quickly realized I wasn’t sharing their joy.

Good times.

So we’ve all adjusted. They to me, and me to them and this situation. And I have to admit it’s so much easier now than when we first were awarded custody.

I believe we turned a corner one night early on in this new life of raising these two incredible grandchildren that I’d like to share with you. Caleb was asleep in his room and I was tucking in Izzy. She was in her new room, adorned with the “Frozen” motif, in her new bed with stuffed animals everywhere. I kissed her and she wrapped her arms around my neck. She then said something, completely out of the blue, that had a profound impact on me.

“Oh, Papa,” she said, “this is SO perfect.”

“Oh, sweetie,” I said back, “it sure is.”

It still is.

What baby powder?

RICK JACOBS is a local author, columnist, process server and family man who lives in Bartlett with his wife and grandchildren. Contact him at