Looking after a baby is hard. Damn hard! It’s a cathartic exercise in mental and physical fortitude that fluctuates between pensive solemnity and exasperating parental torture. Nothing is easy, everything has to be strategically compliant with the child’s needs. You can’t make a drink, a sandwich or even take a dump without first considering you’re child’s needs or safety. They apply an incredible strain on you’re relationship with you’re spouse as well by virtue of proximity. Every scream bellowed by an infant is purposely designed to attract the attention of anyone in a 5 mile radius, with each one possessing it’s own unique emotional derivative. It could be one of pain, joy, inquisitiveness or simply one muttered to provoke attention at how she would rather eat her blanket than an actual nourishing meal. What ever it maybe it’s a primitive, yet effective form of communication to indicate to you, as well as the neighbouring community that she requires your immediate attention; Now! They love to play up too. Her disobedient behaviour and general insubordination is not simply limited to her nocturnal refusal to sleep but also in the simple demands, such as refusing food because there is something shiny on the wall. Screaming because noise illicit attention. Having huge steaming bowel movements in newly changed nappies. Punching or scratching herself in the face and being bemused by why such actions hurt, as well as sticking her fingers in my nostrils in search of hidden treasures, I presume? They really are an anomaly of reproductive invention.
They’re like default humans that require constant visual surveillance with only the basic principles to guide them; eat, sleep and poop. Sometimes all at once! My daughters days of benign activity is divided between being coddled by overly attentive grandparents, feeding, having her nappy changed and yawning. Mine largely consists of concealing a very tenuous grasp on reality and the vague recollections of sleeping. God I miss that, sleep. The relaxation of uninterrupted slumber. What a gloriously frivolous use of time that was. But fatigue is a prerequisite of parenthood, as is patience, the latter of which can become a conflicting emotion to conquer. Bedtime for instance is an intermittent period of rest where your often roused by the fluctuating breathing patterns of your child or the full blown panic attacks because she’s aware of her dark surroundings, the spatial restrictions of her crib or simply coercing her mother and I to wake up, indicated in the guttural whaling for us to simply admire her (and smell?) her feet, as if to say “Look! Mum, dad. I’ve got feet! Isn’t that weird?” Honestly she giggles like a drunk hyena whenever we inhale her foot odours. Her playful pursuit of self discovery can’t be rationalised, nor diminished by appropriate timing. Take last week for instance. Having been woken at about 4:30 in the morning and being the designated handler for this shift, I slink out of the comfort of my warm cosy blanket, still retaining a encroaching sense of fatigue to determine what white noise had disturbed her slumber. I was grouchy, tired and in short supply of the necessary restraint to mediate such an abrupt awakening. But when I entered her room, observed her holding her feet with her bum poking in the air and farting to usher my approach, I couldn’t of been prouder.
“Okay, next time we will try the food “in” your mouth.”
You can’t be mad then, even if they do attempt an adorable scratch on your retinas. But losing sleep really is something you will struggle with most. Everyday will feel like a listless daze of neurological discomfort that slowly metastases into a violent twitch in your left eye. Or until both you and your partner collapse from exhaustion on the sofa at 3 in the afternoon because your lively progeny decided breakfast begins at dawn. Hell even children’s TV is encouraging kids to get up at 6 in the morning! Going outdoors, however briefly will feel like a blissful compromise as my daughter tends to conk out after about 5 minutes and by extension help expand my Pokedex as I strategically locate rare Pokemon whilst maintaining serenity for my sleep deprived daughter. Work will become a profoundly liberating reprieve from the exhausting activities of parental responsibility. Of course most of the substantial tribulations occur when a feed is late or tiredness sets in, and as bad as that is for me it’s exponentially worse for my girlfriend, who has to spend the majority of her day monitoring a gurgling, puking, defecating, aggravated amalgamated version of ourselves, which I can assure is a potent concoction. Yet strangely despite our diminished time to relax and for me to recline and indulge in my habitual gaming needs, the PS4 has become an invaluable resource for comfort that engages the entire family. A versatile solution for all our home entertainment needs including gaming for myself, providing countless Friends episodes for my girlfriend and distributing nurturing and highly educational programming for my daughter, such as Paw Patrol or Teletubbies. I mean what can’t you learn from 4 heavy set bean bags that look as though Yoda is attending a fancy dress party as a cushion and suffers with a startling glandular problem. With a penchant for streaming questionable images of children onto their stomachs, presumably extolled by some dark magic. That live a reclusive lifestyle in a Hobbit house scattered with a substance they refer to as “Tubby custard” and are regularly sucked off by a mobile vacuum cleaner?!…..I’m sorry. I really do need some sleep.
If you have kids then you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t but plan to in the not too distant future then make good use of resting, nonchalance and most definitely sleep. Don’t neglect it, cherish it. Nourish it. Hug it. Take it out for a candle light dinner, with fine wine and steak before taking it back home for some gentle but sweet, sweet love. Because believe me as much as you will love your children, you’ll miss sleep almost as much.