Joys of Parenting, 12.30 am Edition

I truly love my boys, and truly love being a parent. It's just neat every day. I have more of a sense of the limits of my patience (I didn't know I had a limit), and the unlimited amount of love I can feel and accept.

Then there's the lack of sleep.

Yesterday, I had one of my best days as a dad. We've been working, Lynn and I, to be able to let her get out of the house for a few uninterrupted hours at a time on the weekend. It probably sounds silly to any experienced parents--anyone with older kids, 3 or more kids, or just more energy--that we're at seven months, and it's still hard for "mom" to have some time to herself. Or maybe that doesn't sound silly at all.

Rex can be pretty easy going, but every weekend there's a cold among one of us (often me!), or some special set of activities that take up so much time neither Lynn nor I get more than an hour or two to ourselves. (The evenings are generally pretty good, though, until daylight saving time came to an end. We typically swap which of us puts which boy to bed, giving us about three hours each in which we can do exciting adult things, like read a novel or pay bills. If children only knew how exciting night time was for us...)

Lynn takes care of the kids during the weekdays, and Ben is in childcare three of those days. The boys are pretty demanding of attention in generally the nicest ways. Rex and Ben both want to do things, and they get bored. They're not usually peevish (unless sick), and Rex can't really show peevishness yet--he can be angry, sad, or happy, with some neutral in there, too.

So yesterday, I had four hours with the boys, during which Rex slept for some (about half an hour) and Ben for nearly two hours. Since Lynn is nursing Rex, there's always this issue of having milk ready and transporting it when I go out with them, and so forth. After Ben was up, we all went out to a park and a grocery store, and I felt very competent. Lynn, of course, does this two days or more a week. She has the biological advantage of not needing to prepare food for Rex, and also the advantage of routine. But I'm getting there. It was a lot of fun.

After such a great day, one in which Lynn returned from her travels pretty happy to have had a stretch of time on her own after weeks of colds among all of us, which put demands on her, we had Rex's worst nighttime teething episode yet. The kid has been cutting teeth for what seems like four months without one ever emerging. But it's getting close, to judge by his pain.

He woke as I entered the bedroom at 10.30 last night, and despite various approved drugs (Orajel, Motrin), nursing, and some attempts at soothing via bouncing (which used to work), no luck. So he was put back down, and screamed bloody murder for a while. After midnight, Lynn and I were both asleep despite the hollering (her: deaf ear up; me: earplugs, which only reduced the sound to a level where I could hear if something were wrong). He woke at 5-something, went back to sleep after a moment; woke at 6.15, and that was the time we'd love him to get up anyway. I got up with him, and then was able to trade with Lynn. Got another couple hours of sleep, and then she did when he went down for a nap.

We're hoping that's a one-night-only engagement, but with teething, I think it strikes when they're laying on their back--the throbbing always seemed to hit Ben in the middle of the  night. Tylenol worked perfectly for Ben. Rex doesn't respond well to it or Motrin--no substantial effect most of the time, but no ill effects, either.