i’m not afraid of you

You’re over two months old now, and you’ve not made it easy on us. You wailed through the days and then on through the nights. If we weren’t holding you, you were screaming. Even when we were, you didn’t always top. You wore us down and down till we were threadbare and frayed, till we asked for help, begged for it, and even then you kept on.

It’s not that parenthood is difficult–everyone says so, though it’s hard to understand what it means until you have a child who seems to love screaming more than they love you–but that it’s all the time. We woke up every two hours–both of us–to feed you, to comfort you, to just be with you. And you would only fall asleep in your stroller’s bassinet or your rock n’ play.

It’s not that parenthood is difficult, but that it’s transformative. Not in the way so many people mean–but also in that way–but, for me, it was striking how odd it is to do anything at all. To have a job where I needed to disappear for hours at a time to do something that was other than be with you. And I’m luckier than most in that I work from home, work close enough to hear you crying, how your mother cried with you. But it was so odd to come to understand that my life would be defined by you, but also by all the space that was not you. That I would continue to live on a schedule that meant nothing to you, that was completely at odds with the rhythms of your bodily needs.

And this kind of strangeness was revelatory, in a way. We live such artificial lives. We force ourselves into such strange geometries. Such a bizarre constant calculus to continually live in this fragmented world that has us all living according to a clock that wasn’t even established in a fixed way until relatively recently. It’s strange to think how only a few hundred years ago, clocks in neighboring towns could differ, sometimes more than you’d think. So each little place had its own little bubble of time. Its own timezone. Maybe only a few minutes off from the next town, but maybe as much as an hour off. But now we’re all–globally–onto the same clock, picking the same hours of our relative days to spend away from our life.

Because what is a life? To me it’s always been about choice. And yet we choose, in a sort of coerced way, to spend so much time doing something we probably don’t want to do. Something we may not even care about. And so I lose hours from you to do…whatever it is I do to make money.

Something happened, or began to happen, about a month ago. You stopped crying so much. You even began to smile. You’re still colicky, and will be for at least another month, but things have calmed immensely. In a matter of weeks you went from sleeping 2 to 3 hours at a stretch to sleeping 9 straight hours overnight.

As a result, our lives have normalized a bit, though I still spend much of my day away from you–even if only in our attic, where I can still hear you. But I believe we’re coming to know you. Sweet boy that you are. But it’s so strange to know you, because, really, we haven’t met yet.

You recognize us and smile when you feel like it–sometimes at us–but you’re still so small–well, 15 pounds already, so really quite a large little boy–and you’re still sort of trapped in a body you can’t control, in a world you don’t understand. And that’s perhaps the strangest part of life. How we begin so impossibly ignorant of everything, yet so whole, and how we never really learn, but manage to dissolve and fragment and corrode as we age, forgetting that simple perfection of constant tears broken up by smiles, by sleeping, by pooping, by suckling at your mother’s breast.

But one day I will know you, and even after all this, I’m not afraid of you. I’m not afraid.

I’m excited. Sometimes overwhelmingly exhausted, but excited nonetheless.

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