I know you have all been through this at some point this summer: We are on vacation and the baby, who normally sleeps well in his own room, is in a pack and play in our room. When we tiptoed in around 11, after having pajama-ed ourselves in the hallway, the sleeping baby rolled over and started to make those lighter breath sounds that let you know it’s all over but the crying. As soon as I had settled into bed and closed my eyes he started to wail. After a minute or two, it was an on and off whiny sort of cry, the kind that tells you that nothing is really wrong except that he knows you are in the room and wonders why you aren’t interested in playing. Sometimes it would transition into a flopping around the crib trying to go back to sleep sort of whine, and then ramp back up again into a cry.
a) get up and fix the baby a bottle and soothe him back to sleep
b) bring the baby into bed and snuggle, allowing him to sleep but keeping my husband and I awake in the small bed
c) get up, pull on my robe and pace the cold floor for an hour making gentle sushing noises, just hoping that no one else in the house would be disturbed
With any of the first four children, any or all of the above would have been reasonable answers, but this is baby number 5, so instead I chose
d) role over and announce to poor husband that this is making me a little bit insane and unreasonably angry and that he just needs to do something about it, then stay in bed as he changes diaper, takes apart crib to get it out the door, sets it up in the girls room and leaves the baby to cry it out while he returns to make gentle sushing noises to me, to help convince me that the baby will be quiet and we will all be sleeping in just a few minutes, which indeed we were
Someone once told me that he noticed that large families seem to have outstanding fathers. (that the mothers are outstanding goes without saying, I guess). I don’t know if this is universally true, but I know that I could not continue to be so open and generous to new life in our marriage if it were not for the amazing support I get from my husband. He works hard in an office, week after week, and has chosen to spend his vacation week in a luxury- free, remote location with his family, caring for his wife, playing ball with his boys, cooking waffles and doing dishes. As we dance to jazz in the kitchen and take long walks to nowhere, I am reminded again and again of the truth of what his college roommate told me when we were newlyweds, “you are so lucky!”