Lucy has taken to sleeping in. I get it – who actually wants to get out of bed? It’s like a hot shower. Has anyone in the history of water ever wanted to get out of a hot shower? If you removed the lobe in our brains that gives us our sense of general responsibility to society we might never get out of the shower, any of us.
Finn, he just jumps out of bed. Lucy, she’s like me: the moment you wake up you can’t imagine why you would ever in your life want to get out of this warm, cozy bed.
So when I’m the one waking her, I try to wake her gently. I open the blinds first. It’s how my mom used to wake me up. Every morning of my young childhood, that was the first sound I remember every morning – metal curtain rings raking against the metal rod, light streaming in and my mom singing good morning to me. It was a pretty great way to wake up.
So I try to do that with Lucy. Open the blinds – check. Light comes in – check. Gently say good morning – check.
Lucy doesn’t move.
I think it’s different when Liz does this, which is the majority of mornings. Lizzie is Lucy’s Favorite Thing In The World. Lucy probably catapults up and is babbling about her dreams before Liz can say good morning.
With me, she waits. Maybe because she wants to see what I’m going to try next.
First, I sit on the bed. Lucy is a master at pretending to be asleep, so every morning I pretend she is. I get my face really close to hers and I try different things to get her to crack, like pretending her nose is a joystick and I’m playing a video game – that sort of thing.
She remains admirably sleep-poker-faced.
When my various tricks and jokes fail, I’m forced to use my parent cheat code: I have to tickle her.
Tickling, like Father Time, is undefeated.
As of the last few days, I’ve found a new solution: I send Beasley in. Lucy has been asking her whole life if we can get a puppy and if that puppy can sleep with her. And even though Beasley isn’t allowed on furniture we make an exception for Lucy’s bed. So this has become an enticement to slowly wake up.
Finn, like I said, will just sort of get out of bed. He’ll get dressed and brush his teeth. He will have bedhead.
Finn gets his morning-personish-ness from Liz.
Getting out of bed has always been difficult for me. I am a night person – my circadian clock tells me so. I have to force myself to go to bed every night – my natural rhythm would have me up until maybe 1 or 2 in the morning and sleeping until maybe 8 a.m.
I have become a morning person only out of necessity. That necessity is, of course, because we had children.
There were many moments in that baby phase when all parents want in the world is just a little more sleep.
There were the nights when Lucy would wake up at 4 a.m. and I would roll out of bed (4 a.m. was still considered the night shift, whereas Liz handled early morning). If, en route to Lucy’s bedroom, I had ever run into a genie, snaking out of a lamp on a purple vapor, great arms crossed across bare chest, and it had demanded to know My One Wish, I would have asked, without hesitation, if he wouldn’t mind getting Lucy back to sleep, and then I would have turned around and headed back to bed.
But there was no genie.
So I would try little games with our wide-awake three year old. Like Let’s-pretend-we-are-on-a-boat-and-also-that-we-have-to-close-our-eyes-on-that-boat. She would do that for a few seconds and then her eyes would pop back open and she would ask who won.
Kids don’t just fall back to sleep. It’s like trying to get the cork back on a bottle of popped champagne. It’s not an option.
But that day came, as it does for all parents – that day when both kids slept in until seven a.m. Liz and I just laid there in bed, not moving, just soaking it all in. It is a moment like no other, a moment of bliss, like when your baby falls asleep in their car seat and you just circle the block several times celebrating the fact that you have, against all odds, magicked your baby to sleep.
Moments like that felt bigger than our baby merely falling asleep. We had somehow, in that moment, controlled something that was out of our control.
My greatest moments of triumph, as Liz knows, are when we returning from a road trip, often at night, when I’m driving, and my whole family falls asleep. It is pure joy.
I think the reason it is so joyful for me is this:
I often feel like I can’t possibly be a father. I worry that I am just not cut out for it, that I fail at too many things, I’m still somehow immature or irresponsible, that I’m somehow not yet an adult.
But that moment, when everyone falls asleep, is the moment I feel most like a father. It’s because everyone in that car – Lizzie and Finn and Lucy – all trust that I’m going to get them somewhere safely. In that moment they put their lives completely in my hands. I will drive safely. I will stay awake. I will know the way home. I will carry them out of the car and into their beds. Me, the father and husband.
The kids are at an age right now (9 and 7) in which they are still dependent on us, but also just dipping their toes into the waters of what it will one day be like to be a teenager.
Lucy, when she doesn’t want to get out of bed, embodies this to me.
I hesitate before I open her blinds because it’s a beautiful moment that I don’t want to lose. I can imagine her as a teenager, refusing to get up because she was up super late the night before, texting or reading or talking to friends.
But I also remember her, in those early morning moments, as she once was. As a newborn.
When I knew we were going to have a daughter, I called my friend Charlie, who had two sons before having a daughter – Charlotte was born six months before Lucy. He told me that having a daughter was just different, but that he couldn’t explain why.
He was right.
When Finn was born, I was overjoyed. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. We just marveled at him.
But when Lucy was born, the feeling was different. I held her in my arms and I just flat-out wept. I don’t really know why. It was joy, yes, but it was also gratitude, it was a protective instinct, it was disbelief that she was ours.
And it was more than that. It was – in a way that will probably sound very odd – as if I was given a chance to take care of my wife, my Lizzie, from infancy. It was as if I was given a chance to protect Lizzie from all the hurts in her life. Because Lucy is Lizzie. She is both of us.
I’m glad I’m a morning person now. I get to see my kids before they wake up. I get to see Finn roll out of bed as soon as I open my door. He asks me how I slept and he tells me he loves me and gives me a hug because that’s his personality.
Lucy just snoozes.
But she’s not a teenager – she won’t be for a while. So I know I can flop beside her and I know I can tickle her and I know she will still laugh despite herself and then ask that I carry her into the kitchen to have Honey Nut Cheerios. And I chide her but the truth is that every morning I store that memory away: Another day of waking my daughter. And with each passing day that memory is polished and perfected, shining like chrome, glinting like a ‘57 Thunderbird.
Anyway, here are…
The Top Five Baby Moments I Don’t Miss
1.) Potty Training.
We all need potty training. I just had to keep reminding myself of that. And my parents had to do it without the benefit of a potty that would literally sing to you when you did your business. That’s technology, people.
2.) The Misplaced Pacifier.
You lose a pacifier, nothing good is happening. It’s like your pacemaker falling out of your chest: You have only moments before the world melts.
3.) Anything on an Airplane.
Babies on an airplane. Lordy. It’s like being trapped in a gladiator pit with a tiger except in this scenario all the audience members are shouting at you to please keep the tiger quiet.
4.) The Diaper Bag.
Did you ever leave the house without it? I swear, you so much as open the front door and I was grabbing that diaper bag like it was the last space suit on a shuttle and someone had just popped the airlock.
5.) Baby Gates.
We’re back to baby gates with this puppy and I’m telling you I have PTSD from the baby days when your house is sectioned off and you’re constantly falling over things. It’s like living in a Chinese finger trap.
But listen, if you’re thinking about having babies, you should. They’re great.