It is just after 6AM and I've been up with Aspen, our five-month-old, for over an hour. A few moments earlier Mel, my wife, placed swaddled and crying Aspen next to me in bed. Then she threw a horseshoe-shaped maternity pillow across the room and said, “I’ve been up with her for over an hour.”
What she was really saying was, “I’m done.”
In that moment I felt like I was being accused of doing something wrong. Like the fact that I slept through all of this was some kind of a personal attack against my wife. I often feel this way in the night with children. It seems to be my default setting when half awake. I can’t fully explain it. Part of the problem is that Mel’s default setting in the night is to act childish. To throw things and slam doors and act picked on, and my desire to make her happy only feeds my feelings that I’ve wronged her. There is something about being up in the night that makes a parent a little crazy.
Mel turned her back to me, and suddenly I was between a rock and a hard place.
I picked up Aspen and brought her into the living room. It was about 5:15AM, and my alarm would normally be chiming in a few minutes, but I’d already turned it off. A lot of people ask me how I write so much with three kids. The secret, at least for me, is getting up early and getting out of the house. I go to my office two, sometimes as much as three hours before my day officially starts, and I write. But Mel was tired, and I knew that leaving to write would mean asking my wife to get up early, really early, after she’d already been up feeding the baby. But at the same time, not writing meant not posting, and so much of blogging is about producing content. I’ve also been writing in the mornings for almost three years, and it’s gotten to the point that when I don’t do it, I feel off. I feel like I’ve skipped some important thing that I can’t get back until the next morning. So I was going to have to try and write at home, which never goes well, but I was determined to get something down. I got dressed and started writing at the table.
A few sentences in, Norah (our five-year-old) got up and wanted cereal. It was dark in the kitchen. The only light was the laptop. Aspen was in the high chair, quietly smiling for the moment. I tried to be as quiet as possible, and yet somehow Norah heard me. There really are two things my kids are always, no doubt about it, going to disturb: sex and writing. They seem to have a sense that says, “Dad’s getting some,” or “Dad’s writing.” Once they feel that, they come looking for me. It never fails.
I got Norah settled. Then I sat down at the computer again. Three sentences in, Tristan (our seven-year-old) was up, asking for cereal. Aspen started crying, so I put her on my lap.
And this is where I am, right now. It’s 7:15 in the morning. Norah is eating cereal and watching a movie. Tristan is playing with the iPad and eating cereal. Both kids should be getting dressed for school. Mel should be up, but she’s not. I should be in my office writing, but instead I’m trying to do it with a fussy baby on my lap, her small hand gripping my thumb, while I type with my remaining 9 fingers. This is what a daddy blogger really looks like.
I probably better go. Aspen just filled her diaper.
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