Midnight Banshee: Always Glad You Did

January 31, 2011 in First Year Fatherhood  

Midnight Banshee: Always Glad You Did

It’s 12:34am. The baby screams. It’s not one of those “maybe he’ll get over it and go back to sleep” kind of cries. My wife rolls over, mumbles “siggh rohrt urghn [fart]” which i take to mean it’s my turn to manipulate, bargain and beg the midnight banshee back to slumber.

Every single time that it’s my turn to put the midnight baby back to sleep I moan and groan and hate it. Everything in my body and mind resounds with a single: “This is going to suck.”

I go to the crib, and pick him up Put-Down 2.0 style and start gently bouncing… I’m 45 seconds into it and my back already starts to hurt; light perspiration in my armpits.

I’m looking around the dark room at nothing in particular, whining petulantly in my mind, begging the poor sleepy child to give in, retreat, return to unconsciousness.

My eyes start to adjust to the faint glow of the hall light coming through the cracked door – enough that I chance a look at the quiet bundle I’ve been hefting about for what feels like hours…. I look down…

He’s looking right at me, directly into my face, not moving, not arching his back and barking, not flitting his head side to side, or any of that. Just perfectly, peacefully staring into my face.

I stare back. It’s lovely. I’m in the moment with my son. We’re having a moment! We’re just there together staring at each other… And I’m not even thinking about my back pain.

It’s simply amazing.

It’s a dad law and one of the prime lessons of early fatherhood: every time it’s my turn to coddle the midnight banshee I whine and moan and hate it in my heart, but in the end, after all is said and done, I end up glad to get to have this kind of moment with my son.

Please Comment & Add Your Voice!

Martin February 1, 2011 at 4:42 am

I had to comment simply because you just nailed it for me. Last night, our 21mth old girl had a really rough night (big teeth coming through!) so we took turns persuading her to sleep. I grouched when it came to my turn, and got even more annoyed when she woke up 1 minute after I’d left her room having persuaded to sleep. Going back in, I sat down, put my hand through her cot bars, and she grabbed my finger…it was just one of those moments. All forgiven.
Reading this brought a little tear to my eye…thanks!

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Chase February 1, 2011 at 8:21 am

Wow, thanks man!

Alan February 1, 2011 at 6:33 am

Our son is almost two and I took a lot of the late night/early morning feedings and cryings. I love seeing Jack grow up and all the ways his personality is coming out.

I sleep more now. But damned if I don’t miss the late night moments the most.

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Artie February 1, 2011 at 7:07 am

This was really quite wonderful, thanks so much for sharing this. Funny thing is, as my little guys are getting older, I’m finding this to be a Truth: “the harder the thing is to do, the more I’m glad I did it”.

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Chase February 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

Thanks! Yea, I think that’s also why hazing works so well in the military :)

Metroknow February 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

These are the kinds of accomplishments that add up in your bin of self-assurance-as-a-Dad later. In harder times down the road you can look back at those moments with pride and confidence that you were able to overcome and be the father you wanted to be in that moment, even if the man inside was a pissed off Viking in your sleep deprived state. And later you will miss those moments like hell, which is a great, if slightly melancholy, feeling.

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Chase February 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm

ugh… yea, what is it with missing these moments? Like, you do, but you dont.

Funny story, this post wasn’t supposed to publish today… it just sort of fell out accidentally. And this morning, about 4am, my son woke up screaming like a little fk’n tyrant.

I was pissed.

Still am pissed.

We let him cry for a bit, going in to him every now and again… truth is, before 5:15 is mellisa time… because i’m way too capable of actually hurting him if he screams in my face at that time… I’m, like, way too republican before 5:15am: no empathy, kill the poor people who can’t support themselves!

And i didn’t end up going in to him… let him cry till he went back down. And I feel guilty about it.

So, this post accidentally launching is like a past me saying: “Hey fk’er! don’t get lazy.” So i’m trying not to.

Metroknow February 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

You shouldn’t feel guilty about it. We had a great pediatrician who helped us to understand how important it is for kids to learn self-soothing to be better sleepers. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do, to let them cry, but they do go back to sleep if you let them, clearly :).

And BTW, you won’t miss it until years later, when you have forgotten the strain of it (which you also will). One of these days you will walk into your child’s room, look at that peaceful 8-yr-old face and wonder how the time has gone so fast.

Until then however, you’re pretty much f*cked for sleep. :)

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Ben February 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm

The “moment” is one of the reasons I absolutely loved sharing the feeding responsibilities when my kids were younger.

As a father to a 10, 7 and 2 year old, I can say I do miss the older ones falling back asleep in my arms, so I jump to the chance with my 2 year old even though I may lose an hour or 2 of sleep.

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David Bier February 2, 2011 at 2:41 am

I forgot about the night-time waking up thing after Isaac started sleeping through. then he went into a bed and started waking up at 5am and I remembered how much I hated being constantly tired. I do, however, miss the early dawn light first milk quiet cuddle, just me and him, the birds outside and the radiator gurgling.

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Jason February 11, 2011 at 11:17 pm

I’ve been stared at a couple of times too on my watch. Eerie at first, but definitely a favorite. The best was when I was rocking the little man, and I was SURE he was out. I was half asleep, staring blankly at the wall in a mostly dark room. Slooooowly a little hand raises into my view and touches my cheek. Snapped RIGHT out of the daze on that one. His grin told me he knew what he was doing. Creep!

Jason

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Matty March 20, 2011 at 12:31 am

Chase,
Struggling a lot here. He’s two weeks old, we are trying to establish patterns, not working (yet). When he wakes up every hour and a half (after breast feeding for one hour) and he’s screaming and doesn’t want to go back to bed I literally just want to say, “Chill the f___ out!” I don’t, but I’m really not sure how to get over this urge to get angry.

Love discovering your blog and Twitter feeds.

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Chase March 20, 2011 at 9:45 am

You’ve nailed it Matt – I’ve been there 100%… one day you’ll actually yell it out loud by accident… and then wait till you accidentally yell at him when he’s two, and he get’s so hurt that you’ve yelled at him… Wait till you’ve felt that kind of shame. You most likely will, ’cause these kids are challenging lil’ puddfudds.

My kid’s two and I still get that anger urge… wells up in me like some surge of electricity and flashes out. My wife and I work a little better around that now these days… I’m not so bad at saying, “Holy sh*t, take him for five minutes I’ve gotta go take a cold shower.”

You’ll do fine, honestly. You’re two weeks into it. You’re just passing the honeymoon and heading into the new lifestyle part of it where the focus becomes logistics, getting the schedule sorted, diaper runs, etc. I’d say this: sleep as much as possible… when the baby sleeps try to get as much rest as you can… for me, that was a problem… Sleep can go a long way to helping you with the patience.

Good luck buddy! And Congrats!

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