12
Oct
09

Twilight parenthood

DISCLAIMER:  There are probably no references to vampires in this post.  Besides this one.  Google is not your friend.

Many of my last seven years as a parent have been spent in a state of twilight.  Not entirely lucid, not quite asleep.  I’ve come to regard it as normal, and even to cherish the feeling brought on by days, weeks, or (sometimes) months without an uninterrupted night of sleep.

It starts when they are newborn, especially with your first.  You are getting MAYBE an hour or two of sleep at a stretch, which deprives your brain and body of the good REM sleep that you need.  As a result, you start to go bonkers.  This is a good thing, because if you were entirely aware of the psychological, spiritual, and moral implications of the new arrival of a human life — that you had a hand, so to speak, in creating and bringing into this world — you’d likely go far more deeply and irreparably insane.

Then they get sick.  There will be no rest on the nights when you “sleep” camped out on the recliner with a trash can under one arm, ready to spring to full alertness and catch the vomit at the slightest noise or other cue… most of which are false alarms, but which you can’t afford to ignore.  Or it might be the spiking fevers, the whooping or wheezing of a cough, the sharp cries of pain from newly-cut teeth or the ubiquitous ear infection.

Even when NOTHING’S WRONG you will lose sleep, because the predatory fears of the future do their best hunting at night.  When all seems calm, it’s easiest to remember that the world is a scary, dangerous place… and despite our constant reassurances to the contrary, monsters DO exist.  Twilight hours spent in prayer for our little ones come so often, but never as often as they should.

So, why bring this on yourself?  Why bring on the heartache, backache, and forced insomnia?  And WHY would anyone choose to bring an innocent, defenseless, undeserving human being into a world with such evil and suffering?

I can’t explain it if you haven’t been there too.  Sorry, it’s a little bit of a “red pill, blue pill” thing.

I’ve taken the red pill four times now… and I am eternally grateful for each of them.  Because whether they occurred on my timing or (much more often) not, I am blessed with each nighttime cry I comfort, each diaper I change in a pitch-dark room, each nose I wipe, each bedtime story I read, each sleepless night I undertake.

There will be plenty of time to sleep when they’re grown, and these rooms are quiet and empty.  In the meantime…

… have to go.  She’s crying again.  Where did I put that Tylenol…

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The random musings of a 30-something, West Texas high-school science teacher. Hoo-RAY.
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