Earlier today I was wondering out loud what to do with Dylan, who was rolling around on the carpet fussing angrily — was he hungry, was it naptime, etc — and Riley looked up briefly from his pirate ship toy and said, “He wants to go in the bouncy seat, Mommy.” So I put Dylan in the bouncy seat and that was in fact exactly what he wanted.


As I type this they are both tucked into bed for afternoon naps, and if there is any greater feeling than concurrent naptimes I do not know what it is. Dylan didn’t even issue his normal ear-splitting protests about being put down, he just curled up like a fat cocktail shrimp and zonked right out, and . . . people, he’s sleeping in the crib.

I figured since our nights had already gone to hell sleepwise I’d end the swing addiction once and for all, so on Monday I dismantled the Fisher Price Nature’s Touch-of-Heroin Baby Papasan Swing, then stuffed it in the back of my car (knowing that if I didn’t get it out of my house completely I’d be putting the damn thing back together at 3 AM). Not surprisingly, Monday night was — um, pretty bad. You know how in Blair Witch Project the nights get consecutively worse until it’s just, like, a sphincter-loosening melee of incomprehensible, insufferable horror? Yeah, it was kind of like that.

Last night was a vast improvement, so I guess he’s getting used to the new sleeping arrangement. I’m also tapering off how often I go in there when he wakes up, Ferber-style, and that does seem to be helping. Also, thanks to the genius recommendation of someone in the comments here the other day, I stuck in some earplugs during some wee hour of the night after he’d woken up and I’d tended to him and he was still complaining, and they were a godsend. I could still hear him, so I could tell if the fussing was going from Angry to Sorrowful, but the sound wasn’t boring directly into my skull in the same anxiety-producing way. He groused for maybe ten minutes, and that was it until 7 AM.

Who knows what tonight will bring, but I am hoping the worst is over.

There’s always a Challenging Thing in parenthood, isn’t there? When they’re little, it’s the Sleeping Thing, or the Potty Thing, maybe an Eating Thing, or a Friends At School Thing. And I don’t even want to think about all the Things in store for us when they’re older. Oh, the THINGS.

In Barbara Kingsolver’s book of essays Small Wonder, she writes (in the essay “Letter to a Daughter at Thirteen”), “When I was pregnant with you, I read every book I could find on how to handle all things from diaper rash to warning lectures on sexually transmitted diseases. I became so appalled by the size of the task that I put my hands on my belly and thought, Oh Lord, can we just back up? But the minute you were born I looked at your hungry, squinched little face and got it: We do this thing one minute at a time. We’ll never have to handle diaper rash and the sex lecture in the same day. My most important work will change from year to year, and I’ll have time to figure it out.”

It’s true that I doubt JB and I will ever be in a situation where we’re explaining S.E.X. to one kid while still wiping the other’s ass (please no), but my most important work is different with my 8-month-old than with my three year old. There is twice as much work, and it’s all important, and is there really time to figure it all out, because dude, I’m not always so sure.

She’s right, though, that we deal with everything one minute at a time. We are project managers, us parents, breaking the enormity of the overall task into manageable pieces. Now I am changing someone’s diaper. Now I am cooking someone’s dinner. And the Challenging Things are so often put into perspective by the more important things: Now I am feeling a baby’s hand trail wonderingly through my hair while a toddler curls against my side and tells me a story about cows.


… they’re still napping. It’s like some wonderful plot device sent to cut me a break today; like dude, Monday seriously shit the bed, we get it, how about a really fantastic naptime to make up for it? GRATIAS AGO VOS, DEUS EX MACHINA.

Riley didn’t crawl until he was 11 months old, and since all the other Internet babies born around the same time had long been motoring from room to room under their own power I was truthfully starting to fret a bit. You know, wondering if he would be the young man graduating from high school by slithering with great grunting effort across the stage on his belly. Of course once he did start crawling, I was like WHY THE HELL DID I EVER WANT THIS TO HAPPEN, because mobile babies suck: they become these horrifying suicidal crawla-pedes whose burning mission is to quickly seek out danger in all areas of your house, then they have the nerve to cry about it when you gently redirect them away from the pointy table/arsenic/bear trap/etc.

Dylan can’t crawl yet, and while I’m not necessarily in any hurry for him to figure out how to do so, he’s in kind of a frustrating stage where he can sort of flail his way around, but his shit is still so hoopty. He rolls from place to place, until he gets yarded up against a wall or stuck under the couch or whatever, and then he lies there squawking furiously. I have to rescue him about 195738 times per hour, while Riley shouts gaily from the corner of the room: “FAIL!”







Tickling is the best solution for mobility-related unhappiness.


And speaking of frustrating stages, he’s basically stopped sleeping. I thought we had just had one bad night due to a runny nose, but he seems hell-bent on waking up every hour and it is CRUSHING MY WILL TO LIVE. He’s also eating everything that isn’t nailed down, so what the hell, growth spurt? Tapeworm?

I never had sleep problems with Riley and all the times I wondered why people ‘let’ their kids keep them up all night (I always thought, man, why don’t you just let them cry — well, it turns out sometimes you’re just so goddamned tired at 3 AM you’ll do anything to get them back to sleep, including staggering out of bed and administering the millionth bottle, even though you know you shouldn’t) have come back to bite me in the ass in a big way. We just got lucky with Riley, we didn’t do any kind of sleep training. Now I’m the one perpetuating our sleep problems because 1) I’m too tired to listen to the crying, 2) the crying fills me with chemical dread and I can’t stand listening to it (I should clarify that this is something very different from sympathy, it’s more like this biological programming to MAKE THE CRY-SOUND STOP OR MY INTERNAL ORGANS WILL SHRIVEL, and while I can let it go during the day [and if I didn’t he’d never sleep ever, he’s a champion nap-protester just like Riley was] I feel like I can’t bear the anxious feeling when it’s the middle of the night), and 3) I get worried that he’s going to wake up Riley and now I’ll have two wailing kids to deal with, and 4) I’M SO TIRED OH MY GOD.

Since JB has no problems letting Dylan cry and can in fact sleep through even the loudest howls, I think the solution might be for me to check into a fancy spalike hotel for about a week or so. I’d be at home for bedtimes, then kiss JB farewell and jet off to 24-hour room service and an enormous, crisp-sheeted bed.

I just . . . had to stop typing that, because the very idea was making me a little weepy with pleasure.

In happier news, JB is home, and today we visited the same pumpkin farm we’ve been going to for three years now. The first year Riley was in the backpack carrier, last year he was just a little guy running around, and this year he’s got a brother in that same carrier. Crazy.


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