If you have been following my writings, you may have noticed that I’ve not generated much content lately. Sleep recently has become a highly valuable commodity around my house. Any parent will surely relate to what I’m about to share, and those who are kid free will continue their blissful nights rest without a moments second thought.
As you know, I’m the father of two little boys. The older one has been, and continues to regularly sleep though the night, its wonderful but it wasn’t always so. Our 2nd child is a bit over two months at this point. He wakes two or three times per night in need of some nourishment. Since God has not endowed me with the necessary tools to rectify his hunger, I’ve been blissfully unaware of these goings on. I had been waking in the morning, asking my wife how the night went, and then merrily proceeding through my day.
Recently, however things have taken a turn for the worse. The little guy has been chomping on his fists and fingers, showcasing either an anger management issue, or more likely, that his mouth hurts. Teething is the worst thing about parenting thus far. It causes the youngster to be clingy, fussy, and awake at all hours. This means that my wife hasn’t been able to get much rest during the day.
Therefore, at times, I’ve been summoned to duty at all hours of the night. I’ve never had a job in which I’ve been on call, but I can see now why people hate it, one can never fully relax. Now suddenly, when the kids are both in bed, I’m under the covers also. Its purely a defense mechanism. If I stay up late, the little guy will surely make me pay.
One night last week, I was crawling into bed around 8:30, I wasn’t the least bit tired, but I figured I’d better force some shut eye or it may never come. Even when you’re getting plenty of sleep, those crying sounds at 2am can still send chills down your spine. “Why is he crying?” “Will he wake the other one?” “How long will this last?” “Will he stop on his own?”
I shift to my back, and lay with one eye open. “Did he really just cry or am I dreaming? Darn, that’s a real cry. Maybe its a false alarm and he’ll stop on his own.” As I mull this possibility with foggy brain cells, my wife rolls over and says, “he’s been crying for 10 minutes, are you going over?” In my head, I think, “maybe I can pretend to still be asleep, I don’t have boobs, I’m worthless, its good to be worthless.” In reality, I say nothing, still attempting to convince myself its just a dream; “oh no, more noise” and suddenly there’s a knee in my back.
I hurry over and pick up the little bundle and start bouncing, like I’m dancing with no one watching. I shuffle around while I search in vain for a section of floor that doesn’t creek. Some combination of humidity and temperature assures that the creaky floorboards are in a different location every night, and the ottoman, while always in the same spot is never-less kicked by my toe. At least now I’m fully awake.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I live a charmed life. My wife burns a full days worth of calories while I drool on my pillow. Like any good husband, I always try to sleep through any opportunities for which I may provide assistance. Its simply easier to give her a kiss on the forehead, and say “I’m sorry babe, its just a phase,” as I head downstairs in the morning to eat breakfast and read the paper.
Occasionally, however, my nights are interrupted by the sound of banging noises on the wall. This is most confusing to a slumbering male, and has more then once lead me to the attic as opposed to the baby’s room that’s right next door. I’m never quite sure of my purpose once I’m in the attic, and I usually just head back to bed, only to hear the banging again, more determined this time.
“I hate cats,” (we have two) I mumble to myself, assuming one has gotten into something, causing the noises. At this point I usually roll over and discover my wife is no longer in bed, “what does she do at night,” I wonder to myself. “I’d be tired too if I was up at all hours of the night.” It’s at this point, on her third attempt to reach me, that she literally punches a whole through the wall and removes a section of my hair. Dazed again, and rubbing my scalp, I appear in the doorway of the babies room, and offer my assistance. “Why did you go to the attic again you moron,” is usually the first words she utters. I mumble something about cats, as I’m still half asleep in addition to being mildly concussed from her wall punch.
Springing to action, I get water for my parched wife, change baby diapers, and occasionally, if the feeding is done, I serve as the burp cloth so she can get back to sleep. After kicking the ottoman again, I sit in the chair and begin to rock, always forgetting the cloth, my skin is soon warmed by fluid that just paid my son a visit on its way to its final destination as a chest lather for me. For a brief second, I consider knocking on the wall and asking for reinforcements, but after having tried this once I know that surely I can’t survive repeated attempt.
I mop things up with whatever I can grab in the dark, and then just fold it neatly and put it aside. I’ll surely be at work when its refreshing sent is released, leaving me blameless. Soon, the baby is resting comfortably, and I’m slipping back into my cocoon, feeling like I actually helped with parenting. The house is asleep and I’m reminded once again how great it is to be a dad.