I can’t complain much. I’ve got a lot going for me. But every night, for thirty minutes or sometimes more, I feel like I’m a fuck-up. Like everything I’ve accomplished doesn’t amount to shit. Like I’m a huge failure.
Oh, I know I’m not. The evidence is all there. But that’s what it feels like.
Every night at 8 PM, I put my daughter to bed. Well, that’s the plan, anyway. Putting her to bed doesn’t mean she goes down sleeping. It’s just the opposite.
We sit down as a family, read a couple stories first. (Gorgonna goes bananas over her Good Night, Little Bear book.) Then it’s off into the Dark Void of the bedroom, where only pain and suffering and frustration awaits.
She cries. She twists and writhes in my arms like I’m subjecting her to the cruelest torture. And even after she falls asleep out of exhaustion, as soon as she hits the bed, she’s up again. And the torture starts all over again.
Gorgonna has never been the best sleeper. She spent the majority of her first few months sleeping in a Rock and Play, far past the recommended age limit. But it was the only way she — scratch that, my wife and I — could get any sleep.
So yeah, I can spin this like I’m the one to be sympathized with. But it’s really Gorgonna that deserves all the sympathy. She doesn’t get “going to bed” yet; she doesn’t know how to. The daily process of going down for the night (for at least the first two or three hours of the night, anyway) is way tougher on her little undeveloped mind than it is on mine, right? I’m not the one being hoisted off the ground, clutched by this giant who says he knows what’s best for me. She’s just a damn baby.
All Good Things (And Some Bad) Must End
Maybe she got used to some bad habits. Maybe I’m to blame. It’s so easy to just assume there’s some magical solution I can conjure up from a circle of sheep’s blood and incense. But the reality of it, the thing I tell myself every night as ten minutes become twenty, and twenty becomes thirty, is this:
It will pass.
All things — the refusal to drink from a bottle, the midnight watching over her — they won’t last forever. It’s a heartening reminder. I mean, six months ago, when she was still a ruddy-faced blob, I couldn’t have foreseen an end to whatever frustrations I may have been feeling back then. She was still such a new part of our lives.
But she’s still here, and I’m still here. Not much has changed there. So during those thirty minutes of failure, when she’s finally stopped squirming and is sleeping peacefully in my arms, lower lip quivering… those moments will end too. It’s enough to make a Mostly Metal Dad all misty-eyed.
But new moments will come, won’t they? I suppose that’s why I’m writing them all down, anyway. Capturing these moments, both bad and good, is my dadly duty.
So thirty minutes out of every night I feel like crap. Big deal. Because there will be so many more minutes, days, and years where I won’t.
I’m looking forward to all of them.