The 2 most beautiful words in the English language:
Let me say it again: “He’s asleep.”
(For the record, the next most beautiful words are: “Don’t worry, I’ll change the nappy”.)
Nothing I have ever done in a professional capacity has filled me with so much satisfaction as successfully getting Sam off to sleep. Nothing has even come close. This is coming from a man who once spent a morning ice skating with The Cheeky Girls.
I was so naïve.
I mean SO naïve, before Sam arrived. I genuinely thought that, every now and then, he would wake up in the night, when he was upset, bless him, which would mean I’d need to get up and pat his head and sleep would resume once more.
They don’t tell you the truth.
The real truth.
The truth is now, almost 8 months in, sleep is Holy Grail, the oasis just over the horizon – never getting any closer. There is only one person in our household getting enough sleep, Sam himself.
Right now, I would genuinely, without hesitation, give large (and I do mean LARGE) amounts of money for some sleep. I think of it in the same way normal, sane, people fantasize about winning the lottery.
Everything in my life is based around sleep at the moment. It’s all about not waking Sam up, trying to get him off to sleep or thinking tantalizingly about the next time I can actually get into bed.
Putting Sam to bed is like dealing with an unexploded bomb. In a past life I used to gallery produce live TV shows. Nothing in a live broadcast comes even close to the tension involved in trying to put Sam to bed – a long process of rocking and shushing, more complex than any Chinese Tea Ceremony, that builds to a make or break climax of placing him horizontally in his cot. In the best-case scenario, you stand up and see to closed eyes. In the worst, there are 2 peepers looking back at you – often laced with tears and the whole sorry routine beings again.
The irony isn’t lost on me, I can think of few scenarios where someone deprived and desperate for something tries to give it to another, who is equally desperate to avoid it. The only person who currently finds my lullabies soporific seems to be me.
It’s not just nighttime when sleeping is an issue. During the day it’s a battle too. Although in the daytime the combatants aren’t Sam and I… Daytime has become a fight between me and the rest of the planet.
Sam will sleep twice during the day. That’s it, no more no less. The thing is if one of these sleeps is 5 minutes long it makes no difference – he’s not going to sleep again. He’s stubborn that way. These 2 pockets of slumber, sacred sleeping moments, are where my partner and I live out our lives. These naps are also the battleground in which I constantly try to stay 5 steps ahead of the loud people that share our space.
Noisy people of the world, you are the human equivalent of tinnitus. I’ve learned to live with you, I know silence is almost as precious a commodity as sleep and one I, frankly, can’t afford. What I don’t understand is why, when you see a dad and his sleeping child, you feel the need to be as loud as humanly possible in their vicinity?
“Is he asleep?” you bellow, thinking that volume is an adequate substitute for personality or wit.
“Not anymore,” I reply, fighting the urge to thump you.
Then another time…
“Arizona, Arizona, come and have a look at the little baby,” you announce, with such gusto the public address system makers of the world find their shares dropping.
“You don’t mind me bringing my (barking) dog over to look at your baby. Do you?”
Yes, that actually happened.The dog’s curiosity was satiated and had 3 hours of tired irritable child.
I know I’m not going to beat the system. I know I’m not going to get much sleep anytime soon. But it does feel good to vocalize my frustration… quietly.
I must go, I can see Sam’s on the verge of waking. Perhaps a bit or rocking can preserve the moment a little longer. Fingers crossed.
The Out of Depth Dad.