It is 3:05 am and my child is crying. Loud. I am in that hazy zone of sleep where my body and a vast majority of my mind are still asleep. But there is a piece of my conscious brain that can hear her cries, can visualize that I am going to have to be a part of getting up and meeting her needs, the part of my brain that is the unwelcome messenger to the rest of my consciousness that sleep is being interrupted. In preparation for Fatherhood, I had a lot of advice. Many welcome and unwelcome tidbits about how it was going to be and how I would best be able to manage it. It was overwhelming, mostly because I didn’t get it. Parenting is to be experienced, not told about. Like the time I went skydiving with my buddy Gary. An experienced jumper on the plane with us had a shirt on that said, “Explaining skydiving to a non-diver is like explaining sex to a virgin.”
But at 3:05am the other night, it somehow became easier to verbalize. As I lay in half consciousness, it came to me like so…
This sucks. This totally sucks. I went to bed tired. And this is the second time she has woken up tonight. I was finally in that deep restful sleep and now she needs us again. This sucks. It is so hard. Instantly having your whole life change. Instantly losing your flexibility and availability. Striving to become a balancing act between working your full-time job and being an attentive parent (also a full-time job). I have been through hard and challenging times in my life but this beats the crap out of all of them by far.
And the worst part is that I can barely find the chutzpah to complain to Megan because she is working harder than I am. She is the mom. Giver of the breast and leader of the parental charge. I am striving to be a reliable captain, but she is the General. No two ways about it. So when I am about to totally lose my mind, I have to somehow figure out a way to support her. I am exhausted and asked in that very moment, to be on and ignore all of my own needs that I have spent a lifetime prioritizing. It is madness.
I need rest. I need peace. I need to watch a movie uninterrupted. I need to sleep. As much as I love my child, and I do mean the truest of love around, I can’t stand or believe all that is required of a parent to successfully care for their baby.
And then, after thinking all of these thoughts for 60 seconds in my half-sleep state, I say to myself at 3:06 am…
It is totally worth it.