The Second One Is Coming
As I lay in bed on Friday morning, enjoying dozing off a little before I had to get up to go to work, I consoled myself with the thought that I’d had a good night’s sleep. It was early, but it was also Friday; I can handle that, I said sleepily to myself, just one more day to go.
Then my mind ran forward to a time more or less three months from now, and how my mornings would soon be changed. The impending arrival of a second child, coming next February, means that my nights will once again become an interrupted tapestry of waking up, getting up, cleaning up and trying to snatch back a little sleep before the alarm goes off. Hungry, teething, flu, just crying for no apparent reason, all of those little things you forget about as your child gets older will soon be back to haunt my (or should I say, our) nights.
These things worry me a little, I must say. When we went through them five years ago with our daughter, I was a young and spritely thirty-six years old. What’s it going to be like this time around, now that I am … well … older?
I remember from when my daughter was born how the nature of being tired changed. As we all know, getting older means having less energy, that’s just something you grow to accept. But when you don’t have kids, tiredness is something you can put off till the weekend.
It’s like a payday loan; you may be running into your overdraft now but when you get to the weekend you can catch up, you can lie in and reset the balance to zero, possibly even go into credit. But with a screaming infant, tiredness becomes a constant. It’s always there, it becomes your continuous state of existence. You’re always tired, you always need sleep, you always need to catch up.
Life’s no longer about clearing some time to do what you want to do, to learn something new or get a new project off the ground. It’s about clearing the space between you and bed, so as at last you can get some blessed sleep.
Although it’s still a few months off, I am beginning to realise how much this is going to change everything. The time I was getting back will soon disappear again. It will be spent changing nappies, cleaning food off the walls, mopping up sick, and walking around singing lullabies at one in the morning.
Singing lullabies. Telling stories. Playing games. Laughing at the ridiculous things they do. Smiling as they start to walk. And watching as they interact with the world around them, learning all the time as they become a totally unique little person that you will love forever. That’s why we do it. Because this is one of the things we do in life that really does reward us for our hard work. With our kids, we can see the effort we put in really pay off. Long tiring evenings may not get you a bonus or a promotion, but they do earn you a smile, a spontaneous kiss, a sudden ‘I love you dad’ as you try to walk silently down the corridor at night.
Kids are wonderful, which I why I’m happy to have another one. And while at the moment, I may only be able to focus on the sleepless nights and long days fighting fatigue in front of a computer screen, I know that there are great times ahead of us as well. And I’ll let you know how they go – through the sheen of vomit and reek of used nappies, obviously.
One of the things I’ll be working on between nappy changes is my new book publishing company, The Dyslexic Writer. If you or anyone you know has an award-winning manuscript tucked away on a hard drive please send it over. It’s not just for dyslexics, by the way, normals are welcome too. (Site is working but not finalised yet).