I know I said in my last post that Tilly had reminded me of the joys of simple presence, of gorging on the superabundant sensual feast that is ‘the here and now’, but let me assure you that there are many other relationships with Time that characterise the parenting experience. There are times (last night, for example) when parenting feels more like the ‘dark night of the soul’ (though, in this case, rather than the morning finding you in mystical union with God, it finds you sprawled across the floor of your child’s room, with her face in your armpit, while your sleep-deprived brain tries to work out what the hell that bubbling sound coming from the corner of the room can be).*
While it is still fresh in my memory, I want to write down a timeline for last night, before the retrospective rose-tinting that our genes employ to trick us into replicating them more than once start to take effect.
7.10pm After a very long series of ‘low energy’ activities, I put Tilly (and her head cold) into bed and leave the room.
7.15pm Tilly starts to get upset (possibly owing to the fact that she can’t breathe, and is somewhat overdressed).
7.20pm Having removed half of her clothing, I put her back in bed.
7.25pm A couple of minutes of crying later, I get her out of bed to check her temperature, which turns out to be normal. I offer her some water, which she refuses, and put her back in bed.
7.30pm A couple more minutes of crying later, I (and my iPod) go back into her room to see if my being ‘present’ will help her to calm down and sleep. I listen to an 11 minute podcast on the latest rescue package for Greece, and then leave the room at about 7.42pm.
7.48pm Having waited a few minutes to see if she will calm down on her own, I go into Tilly’s room again, turn her onto her back, mutter a few parental bedtime platitudes, and leave the room. For the second night in a row (and for reasons that I cannot even begin to fathom) this does the trick. She stops crying and goes to sleep.
I have dinner (an iceberg-lettuce-based salad followed by a large bowl of my mother-in-law’s bread and butter custard) and then start watching the last episode of ‘All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace’ (see next post), returning to Tilly’s room every twenty minutes or so to resettle her, replace her dummy, or help her find ‘Keptin’ – her Dutch made, organic cotton comfort object (It was a gift!).
9.15pm Right at (what, for want a better word, I will call) the climax of the documentary, Tilly wakes up (good and proper, this time), and I decide that I am dealing with pain as well as congestion, and so give her 7mls of liquid paracetamol. She drinks it down with an ‘at last!’ expression on her face, and then goes back to sleep.
9.30pm I quickly return to watch the bleak concluding minutes of ‘A.W.O.B.M.O.L.G.’ and then go to bed.
Meanwhile, Susie has been babysitting. I am expecting her home around ten or so, and given that I don’t actually get into bed until about 9.45pm, my body decides that it might as well postpone going to sleep until she is home.
10.35pm (approx) My body decides that it has waited long enough and falls asleep.
10.45pm Susie arrives home and I wake up. We debrief each other (if only I were euphemising) about our respective nights. We then take a quarter of a sleeping pill each, and settle down for a well-earned bit of shut eye.
A quarter turns out to be not quite enough, and I lie awake composing this (and the following) blog post in my head.
11.45pm (approx) I finally fall asleep.
12.30am Tilly wakes again, and can’t resettle, so Susie goes in to try to get her back to sleep. We have a mattress on the floor of Tilly’s room for nights like these, and so eventually Susie pulls Tilly out of bed and onto the mattress with her, hoping that she will be able to go to sleep more easily if she is in bed with mum.
1.30am An hour of distress later, I go in to join them (hoping against hope that Tilly will be able to go to sleep more easily is she is in bed with mum and dad).
1.40am Having tested this hypothesis for ten minutes, I try another. I carry her upstairs with me and lie her on my chest while I sit in the big blue armchair. Being more upright seems to help her, and after ten minutes or so, she is asleep.
2am After putting Tilly back down on the mattress in her room with her mother, I return to bed.
2.15am (approx) I fall asleep again.
6.17am (exactly) Tilly wakes for the morning, and since it is my turn to be on morning duty (Boo!), so do I.
Let me say a few things, for the record. This is definitely not the worst night we have had with Tilly, but it is also much worse than normal. I also know that many of our friends have much worse nights than this, regularly. In other words, this night is not really representative of my experience, nor is it representative of the parenting experience in general. So why choose this one to log (and blog)? Why? Because it was the night I just had, and I’m guessing that my genes have already started to airbrush all the others.
Wish us luck for tonight.
* Did you guess ‘the mystery sound’? Yes, it was a vaporiser. Well done!