Imagine that you have three children. Can you see them? They're so adorable, the apples of your eye, you can't imagine life without them. You see them? Right. Now imagine you put the two oldest ones to bed for the night and you are thrilled at the sight of them snugly in bed with an evening of rest in front of you. The youngest is a baby, just a few months old, so you put him to bed a little later, let's say around 8:30 or 9:00, and you spend the evening relaxing and enjoying time with your spouse. Just for argument's sake, let's say you go to bed around 11:30pm. This may not be your normal bedtime but since this is hypothetical just go with me on it. You are puttering around, doing last minute things, finally saying your prayers before bed and as you're just about to climb under the covers your baby starts fussing. Oh, sure, it may be small at first, but you've been there before, you know this isn't the start of something good. You're also probably desperately trying to get your baby back on a normal schedule after a week of vacation and so far have been unsuccessful. So you know that you don't want to pick him up or feed him or give him any encouragement to be awake. But, as his crying picks up a bit, you also know this could go on for a while and you're determined to let him cry it out. Hypothetically.
So, what do you do? Don't bother getting in bed because you'll just lay there frustrated, listening to him cry, debating about what to do. It's best to ignore it completely, so you go into the other room and look at houses for sale online. I mean, allegedly that's what someone might do. In this hypothetical situation.
Anyhoo, let's say that an hour passes with a few stops and starts in the crying but nothing is really changing, so you finally go cover him up and rhythmically pat his back to get him to relax. It's now around 1 am. His crying subsides but he's still making small whimpering noises which you know is a bad sign, but you've slowed the crying a bit so you leave again and go back to the computer. The crying continues. At full force. Around 1:30am you're wondering why you're so determined to ride it out and can't remember what the point is of listening to the crying, so you go back to his crib, pick him up, and commence bouncing. The bouncing helps, to a point, but if know anything about these imagined children they are probably all pretty darn stubborn and if they know anything it's how to wait it out until they get what they want. After bouncing for almost a half hour, you can hardly feel your feet anymore and you're afraid any moment you'll lose your equilibrium or else just plain pass out from exhaustion. So you give up pretenses of putting baby back to sleep and go back to the office and let him watch a video with you online. You wanted to finish watching that episode of "Ugly Betty" anyway. He sort of falls asleep while he sits on your lap but immediately awakes at the slightest sign of movement. It is now approximately 2:15am. You've forgotten your name, the names of your beautiful, stubborn, hypothetical children, and your reason for staying up with this baby. He wins. You hang up the white flag and feed the poor starving kid. At approximately 2:37 in the morning you dump him back in his crib, climb under the covers and pass out.
You think you're done, don't you? It's cute how you think that.
About an hour later you hear child-like mumbling at your bedside and wake to find your oldest child standing over your sleeping spouse whimpering something about it being too dark in his room. You grumble at sleeping-spouse to scoot over and everyone squishes into the bed and fall back asleep.
Nope, still not done.
About an hour after that (so where are we, around 4:30 in the morning? I've lost track) the baby you stayed up with for 3 hours starts crying again. At this point, you've lost all will to live, including the sensitive, nurturing, mothering part of living and you shove sleeping-spouse to wake them and loudly state that they need to take the scared-of-the-dark child back to their room to sleep. Barely-coherent-spouse rouses the sleeping child and says he has to go back to his bed because the baby is crying and he won't be able to sleep. Interesting logic because obviously he was sleeping fine, but everyone is tired so thankfully there is no argument. You flop yourself back onto the pillow and bitterly mourn the loss of the days before you had children and you could sleep for 8 hours if you felt like it. You don't really keep track of how long the baby cries this time because it's obvious at this point that time has stopped and this night will never end. Either you fall asleep to the crying or it only lasts around 5 minutes because the next thing you know, there is light outside your window and your lovely middle child, who has had beautiful, uninterrupted sleep all night, is in your room at 6:30 am, rousing the baby you struggled with all night and gleefully playing with him. You lie there in a half-asleep stupor for about 30 minutes before you give up and resign yourself to the life you've chosen. The life where sleep is a distant memory.
Of course, this is all hypothetical. It's not at all likely that this will happen to you when you have kids, and certainly not all in one night. And to those of you expecting children, maybe for the first time: We welcome you to parenthood.
On an unrelated note, we went to DisneyWorld. Go Mickey!
(I know, this doesn't actually show them AT DisneyWorld--it's in the hotel. But I adore this picture of the three of them.)