Saturday, October 1, 2011

Solo Dad

Walt and I are alone in the house this weekend, which marks a parenting first for me: solo dad. All of the fathers I have consulted on the matter say that this is a special weekend, full of reciprocations. I get Walt all to myself. Cait gets a pampered weekend with a good friend, reading books, drinking wine, sleeping in until 8:35, 8:40am. The bed is big and wide and lonely, but I do love the extra space. I sleep the light sleep of a man worrying constantly that he is not hearing his baby cry. I preempt squawks with that coveted, rare thing: the 11pm bottle. I try to coerce Walt with that gesture of true indulgence: the 5am bottle. Here, have more milk. Let's both sleep a little longer.

I have spent all day with my boy, in the yard and kitchen, at the park, walking around campus, reading books, filling and emptying and filling buckets. I remembered the diaper cream and pretzel sticks. I forgot the sun block. I stood back a ways and did not hover too closely as Walt climbed the slide and yes, I listened to my podcasts as he turned the white wheel on the play structure all to one side, then the other, over and over, until it was time for more milk, a walk home, a second nap.

I will try to get to bed early again tonight. I will read my book, turn off the light, and stand over the crib a while, listening for his steady, slightly-nasal breathing. This morning, he kept putting small sample bottles of shampoo and lotion into the corner of his mouth. I thought, He must be teething, I'll give him some Motrin. Walt squeals and screams now, often at the drop of a hat and for no reason. I can't use entirely-fun terms anymore to describe it. What was once cooing and chirping has transformed fully into all-out, guttural moments of unchecked noise. I am so proud of my loud boy. I prefer still the ebullient chuckle, as when he stuck his fingers through the bars this afternoon while, on the other side, I stuck out my tongue.

I loved it, and a little while later, I was exhausted, and I am so happy to not do this every weekend. My hat's off to the single parents of the world, and to those parents who do not live with an extended family willing to step in at a moment's notice and offer a break to shower, pick up toys, feed the cat. Brush my teeth. How did I forget to do it this morning? Some routines are so simple as to accommodate, eventually, any interruption. It is a beautiful and mindless habit to worry constantly about one thing.

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