My son hates to sleep.
I guess most babies do — perhaps because they’re afraid of missing something, an infant-sized dose of FOMO that compels them to scream their heads off when you even venture near the crib.
Where Oliver would once drift off in his rock ‘n’ play without much of a fight, our almost 10-month-old (I’m sorry, did I just type 10-month-old?) now loses his noggin if he even gets a whiff of you wanting to put him down for a snooze.
The problem? He’s exhausted, of course. And when he gets exhausted, he gets mad. Our easygoing, never-met-a-stranger child becomes a possessed possum when he’s sleepy: clawing his way back to consciousness, refusing to give up the ghost.
I have no idea what his kind day care provider does, honestly. She never reports a problem. But I’m kind of afraid to ask.
There is no foolproof solution to this. He once wanted his bottle before drifting off, but eventually gave that up. He doesn’t take a pacifier anymore. Spencer and I just do the best we can, soothing him into his midday snoozes with a story or well-timed car ride. He goes to bed just fine at night, thank God, but those naps are a fight that takes all the energy we’ve got. And some we don’t.
That’s most of parenting, I’m finding: everything you have until you are empty, depleted. It requires you to become an excavator, digging around for something — anything — to give again.
But then they smile at you, reaching out a chubby hand or thoughtfully tugging a lock of your hair.
It is hard. It is so worth it . . . but it is hard.
Yesterday morning, I sat by his crib as he rubbed, rubbed, rubbed his eyes and screamed, a red-faced and angry shriek that cut straight to the bone. It took everything I had not to reach in and scoop him up, whispering anything I thought would comfort him, but I knew the war would only wage again five minutes later.
I reached for a book, perching in the rocking chair just out of sight — close enough to hear every breath, grit my teeth through every cry, but not where Oliver would see me.
Maybe he sensed me there, trying to relax while my child kicked and howled. Maybe, in a strange way, it was comforting.
But he finally relented, falling fitfully into baby sleep. His face eased. The tears — thick rivers down his cheeks — quickly dried. I moved delicately toward him, pulling a bunched-up blanket away from his face, and crept downstairs to finally eat the cold English muffin I’d toasted an hour before.
And then the doorbell rang: solicitors. With pamphlets.
And I guess that’s just parenthood, too.