Thursday, December 2, 2010

If I Don't Laugh I'll Go Crazy

There is something wonderful about being a mother. When Baby Brown Eyes giggles at me, when he wiggles with excitement at seeing me when I come home from work, when he snuggles next to me in sleep, my heart feels near to bursting at how blessed I am to have him in my life. All I want to do is kiss his adorable cheeks and squeeze his chubby thighs and breathe in his beautiful baby smell.

That being said, although I love being a mother, there are plenty of moments when I don't like it, if you catch my drift. Like the night Mr. Brown Eyes installed our new water heater. While he was working hard and cursing at his tools, I entertained the baby, who was crabby for some reason only his little baby self will ever know. Mr. Brown Eyes shut the power off while he worked, so the house was dark, Baby was crying, and dinner was sitting cold on the stove. I wasn't in the best mood. But after an hour or so, Mr. Brown Eyes finished installing the water heater, we turned the power back on, ate dinner, and Baby slept.

Five minutes later. Baby's awake and crying. We rocked him back to sleep, but five minutes later...It seems getting him to sleep for any decent amount of time was out of the question. Mr. Brown Eyes saw how tired I was and offered to watch TV with Baby while I got some sleep.

"Yes, thank you, that would be wonderful," I gushed.

It didn't feel like I was sleeping very long when Mr. Brown Eyes came back into the room and slipped a sleeping Baby into the bassinet. Success! I thought happily, my eyes drooping back into blessed sleep. But before my eyes completely closed, I heard the all-too-familiar sounds of squirming and fussing coming from the bassinet. A minute later Baby was wailing. Mr. Brown Eyes was in the shower, so I dragged myself out of bed and picked him up.

Usually at this time of night a little rocking and soothing is all it takes to get Baby to sleep. But that night he was angry and he wanted the world to know it. None of my usual tricks could quiet his screaming. Nursing quieted him for a few minutes but then he unlatched and started wailing again. Thinking that maybe he was teething, I put some Orajel on his gums. He stopped crying and smacked his gums together, screwing his face up at the weird taste. I tried nursing him again, and miraculously, wonderfully, he fell asleep.

Whispering a prayer of gratitude, I started to lay him down in the bassinet. This is a task that requires great skill. Baby loves to sleep snuggled up to the warmth of another human body. If you put him down too soon, he will wake up. If you put him down too late, he will wake up. If you put him down too fast, too slow, too awkwardly, too smoothly, too casually, too delightedly, he will wake up. And make you regret you ever tried to put him down in the first place. Mr. Brown Eyes is much better at it than I am, but I figured after getting so little sleep all day, Baby was surely so deeply asleep that he wouldn't notice me put him down.

Maybe in a perfect little world where mothering always goes the way you want it to.

Right when I leaned over the bassinet I felt Baby squirm. I tried to put him down quickly. His eyes popped open and he immediately started crying.

"I give up!" I fumed, throwing the burp cloth on the floor and storming into the bathroom, so stressed out and tired and frustrated that all I wanted to do was cry. As I stood there feeling sorry for myself, staring into the mirror at the dark circles under my eyes, I heard Mr. Brown Eyes get out of bed and pick up Baby. He didn't immediately come into the bathroom to see if I was ok, so I put my dramatics aside and returned to the bedroom. Baby was crying as Mr. Brown Eyes bounced him in his arms.

"Silly baby," he said, laughing.


I thought to myself, How can you be laughing when it's pitch dark outside and every creature on God's green earth is sleeping but us and at this rate we'll have to take turns sleeping while the other person just tries to quiet our child's screaming enough that he doesn't wake up the entire neighborhood?

Then I thought, Maybe he's on to something.

I'm sure Mr. Brown Eyes felt just as frustrated as I did. But he's mastered the lesson that I think I will take my entire life to learn: Sometimes you just have to laugh at life or you will go crazy.

So I tried it. I laughed. And you know what? I felt so much better.

Baby didn't laugh. He kept crying. But we finally got him to sleep and he slept for almost eight hours straight for the first time ever. And we settled into bed exhausted, but smiling.

Laughter is the best medicine,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

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