The White Flag

The first week Sam was born someone gave us a present. I can’t remember the gift or the giver, but I remember the bag. It was a cheery blue with sparkly glitter and it said in red writing, “Welcome to Parenthood: Home of Sleepless Nights.” I hated that bag. It tormented me. I wanted to smash it, to burn it, but either due to motherhood busyness or a self-inflicted torment, it stayed on the counter for a good week.
If I were to make a bag, it would be a peaceful blue with little teddy bears cooing at you and happy clouds and rainbows. It would say in cutsy handwriting, “Parenting is God’s way of teaching us we have no control.” (And the little baby in the bassinet would be sleeping with a smile on his face.)
For the past six months, I have interviewed, read, analyzed, charted, petitioned, and predicted, searching for the keys to make Sam do what I want him to. At times I thought I had it. If I…give him the blue pacifier instead of the green one/get organic sheets/put him to bed earlier/put him to bed later/use a humidifier/rock him to sleep/don’t rock him to sleep/dust the room/eliminate bananas/use a rubber spoon/heat the bottle 29 seconds instead of 25/get a glow worm/etc., then he will _________. But alas, babies do not obey agendas or conform to formulas. People say, “Every baby is different.” They are being sweet. I will tell you what they are trying to say. They mean, “That’s cute of you to try to figure out Sam. But there is no possible way he will ever do what has worked for any other baby, including himself, more than two times.” You do get glimpses of it…a good nap, a happy afternoon, a neutral-smelling diaper. But these are merely taunts, teases, vague reminders of an ideal, like a leftover candy cane in a coat pocket.
I am being funny. But it’s not always funny. The thrice-interrupted nap, the bad mood during a holiday dinner, the scary realization that despite avoiding malls and sanitizing hands, there is no way to avoid the diseases I am fleeing, or any other calamity. Being out of control is no fun, especially for a ducks-in-a-row everything-in-order kind of person like me. It’s a big step, but Sam/universe/God: you win. I give up! I will roll with the punches! (Just as soon as I figure out how to get rid of this 4 am wakeup call…)

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