Anyway, 30 pounds of unhappy toddler began wailing uncontrollably about point oh three seconds after I reached REM depth sleep last night. We let him cry, as we usually do, but he didn’t simmer down, as he usually does. The husband and I played the Waaaaaaaait, Pretend You’re Asleep, Don’t Give In, Deeeeeeeeeeep Sleeeeeeeep game for a while. He won. I huffed loudly, knowing full well he was wide awake and could hear my displeasure, and then went in to rub the 30-pounder’s back. He wailed louder. Thinking of the landlords who live upstairs, the childless landlords with the perfect, non-barking dog who had to go to work in a few hours, I began to rub more in earnest. His wails reached screech level, and I pictured the eviction notice on the door as I hauled him out of bed to change his diaper. He was really screaming now, for no reason we could ascertain, and absolutely nothing would calm him down. Usually this Cry It Out method results in further sleep, but occasionally it ends this way – with the baby having gotten good and warmed up, and ready to rumble.
Patrick got up to fetch the kid some milk. No dice. I rubbed and patted and did the mom bounce. Nope. Not having it. No rocking, no soothing voice, no music, he was having none of it. As the visuals of a New Lease Agreement with triple rent flashed through my mind (Sorry! Rising costs and all! Can we help you move out?), I hefted him, Bear, and Binkit into my arms and, lower back creaking, began the shuffle.
We shuffled to the front of the house, and peeked out the blinds at the night. We turned and shuffled to the back of the house, and looked at the twinkle lights on the tree of the house behind us. We turned and shuffled back. Lather, rinse, repeat, for an hour, me whispering soothing things in his ear the whole time, him getting heavier and heavier in my arms. He stopped crying pretty quickly, gave up whimpering soon after that, and just looked out, silently, at the world that had wronged him. Eventually he put his head down, thumb running over the tail stub of his Bear, fingers laced in the crochet stitches of his Binkit, and breathed deeply. We walked 10 minutes more, and returned to his room, and I lay him on the big bed and lay next to him but OH! NOT READY YET! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!! and I had to start all over.
These are the days I wish for a 20th percentile child. I met his needs, because that’s what I do, but I wish his needs included a cushiony, pillow-filled wheelbarrow. My arms are champs, but my lower back, as I’ve mentioned lately a few times, is suffering the hell out of some toddler+law casebooks=no rest. Last night we walked from midnight until 3, largely because I was afraid of disturbing the people who have the power to make us change our address. I thought moving in the same house as the landlords would be great, because it would mean the house was kept up nice. This problem never occurred to me, this fear I have of disturbing them in the wee hours, but now it makes me long for our tiny, impossible little detached house back home in North Carolina, where a toddler could scream for hours and I could at least go stand out on the deck for a breather.
He eventually allowed me to lay both of us down on the big bed, where he proceeded to kick me for the next two hours, and if you’re adding up all these hours then you’ll see that this carried us til dawn. I myself am a poor sleeper, wiggly, too hot, too cold, too stuffy, drafty, can’t breathe, blah. Put Jack and me in the same bed and it’s no Zs for either of us. He also, Side Note, will only sleep perpendicular to me. He finds my midsection, buries his head in it, and sticks his feet straight out, and given he’s almost 3 feet tall that gives me about 5 inches of play on the double bed. This is the way of children, is it not? Take everything you’ve got, mercilessly, and leave you with your butt hanging off the spare bed just praying that they won’t make a sound?
It sounds like I’m complaining, but actually I’m not. I thought that as I walked. I thought – my back hurts. I am TIRED. I just want to lay down. He is crying for no reason. It is 3 in the morning. But isn’t this nice, just us two. I’ll just breathe in his hair, put my hand on the back of his neck, and whisper in his ear. We’ll lay together. One day this won’t be proper anymore, you know what I’m saying? One day, I won’t be able to fix his sadness with a late night shuffle. One day, I won’t be able to pick him up and soothe his hurts with the sound of my voice. That’ll be the day I can relax at the pool in the afternoon, or read whatever book I want for however long I want, or sit for more than five seconds on the couch without having to leap up and find what dangerous object has caught him in its tractor beam and is reeling him in. That day will have some perks, but how I’ll long to hold my baby again, my baby who will be a man.
One thing I think I’m good at with this mom thing is enjoying what we have when we have it. Doesn’t apply to many areas of my life, but I think it does here. Not that I’m saying I wouldn’t mind a few hours off – today is my day to watch him, so I’ve been chasing him around all day dreaming of his naptime. (He’s now taking a nap, and instead of sleeping I’m writing this, because – why? Again? Am I not sleeping now?) I do wish that one his grandmothers lived five minutes away and could take him and do dinner and baths tonight, and let me go to bed at 7 like I want to. But that isn’t how we’ve set up our life, and his dad teaches a class this evening, so it’s me trooping along through hour 38 or so of Mommy Duty. In this hour it’s become a bit of a trudge, I don’t mind saying, but we’re having frozen pizza for dinner and I’m not above putting Finding Nemo on repeat, skipping bathtime, and playing a book on tape instead of reading stories. We both make sacrifices in this relationship, ok?
I’d love to wind this up but my mush brain is not handing me any cute tag lines. I’ll finish with this – my mom sent us a package today. She bought Jack The Little Mermaid, because he loves Nemo so gosh darn ridiculous much, and she’s thinking he’ll dig another Disney flick about the sea. Included in the package was a book by Lane Walker Foard called "New Parent Apology Cards." This couldn’t have come at a better moment. They include customized apologies to the restaurant your baby just trashed, the seatmate on the airplane who had to listen to him scream, your friends and family for forgetting to write thank you notes, and even your own body for the pain you put it through. I’m leaving this one upstairs with a plate of cookies. Food Lion cookies, because who has time to bake??
"It is to engage in severe understatement to sugest that things have been a bit amplified on our side fo the fence lately. The 3 am crying has become extraordinary. . . . We are so very sorry. Your complimentary earplugs will arrive shortly. SORRY."
- signed, the 30 pound toddler and his mush-brained zombie parents. And a dog who spent the whole day asleep on the couch.