Ferris is almost 3 months, and at this point I can honestly say, I still don’t know the kid. I mean, of course I know he’s my son, and yes he recognizes me, to a point that is. Do I think he really knows who I am, no, but he does know that I a person that is around all the time, and, on occasion, will give him his milky goodness he pines for; which warrants me a smile from time to time.
What I mean when I say I don’t know him is that I still don’t know what he wants when he cries….which is all the time. During the entire pregnancy the Wife and I read numerous articles and book pertaining to babies…..ok, the Wife read the articles and books and she would forward them on to my email; I perused them. We also attended a birth class. In all our research and learning we constantly read/heard that from day 1 we, as good parents, should be learning our baby’s “cues” and “signs” for everything he needs (i.e. hunger, being changed, gas etc). Well, I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t always work like that. All of his cries look and sound the same. And on top of that, he’s fussy about 75% of the day.
The reality of being responsible for this new life was no more real than the first day we arrived home from the hospital. If I forget everything about his birth someday (which, will never happen btw, it will be forever burned into my memory), the one thing I know I will always remember is the feeling I had when we got home, and I knew we were on our own for here on out. I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. I was afraid to make a decision. I remember sitting on the couch staring at him asleep in his car seat thinking, “Now what?”
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a father. I have always said how great I would be, and how easy I would make it look. I now realize how ignorant that way of thinking was, and I have come to regret my ignorance. So far, being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I don’t feel like I’m doing a very good job.
As I mentioned earlier, Ferris is fussy and upset approximately 75% of the day; the other 25% is spent sleeping or eating, and maybe, just maybe a small time of smiling. This has taken its toll on the Wife and me, from different angles, but the same frustration. We find ourselves quickly exhausted by the constant crying and saying, “What do you want,” as if we expect him to answer us out of nowhere and clearly articulate his desire. And, other times, we can’t help be feel defeated because nothing we do to soothe him works.
The more I think back on all of the articles and books we (the Wife) read, and classes we took, my frustration grows even more. The authors/instructors would always say “how things” would be with our new baby with this air of absolute certainty, but in the end, they would always squeak in this little frustrating disclaimer saying, “Remember, all babies are different, and will figure things out on their own time.” So, in the end we are left with no sense of certainty what so ever. Where this may be ok with some parents, it doesn’t really jive with people like the Wife and I; two overly-logical people.
The Wife and I are the kind of people that in life, everything has its place. Every problem “should” be able to be solved with a clear, systematic approach, with a logical solution. Needless to say, Ferris is not of the same thinking. In the early weeks after Ferris’ arrival, I found myself dumbfounded that the Wife and I could not seem to get much more accomplished in a 24 hour span than brushing our teeth. We just could not figure it out. After several failed attempts to pull ourselves together, get the kid dressed, in order to go out and about, I found myself saying, “How is this possible? How is it, that two, fairly well educated, highly functional adults be so easily defeated by this little person? How is it that we cannot figure this out?” As hard as I have felt this time has been on me/us, it has been exponentially harder on the Wife.
The Wife has been home with Ferris from the time he was born, which has been no picnic. I feel really bad for my Wife. All she wants is to play with our little guy and enjoy the fruits of happiness that we have heard so many of our other friends with little ones talk about. Instead, she spends most of her day feeding and dealing with a very fussy baby. After a while it wears a person out.
When I come home after work, as well as on the weekends, I try and do as much as I can with Ferris so that my Wife can escape for bit and have some space to breathe. Whether it’s letting her run all the errands (which she is surprisingly ok with now, lol) on the weekends, or encouraging her to leave for a bit and take a yoga class, or even just to take a quick nap; whatever help I can provide. But, it only helps so much because at the end of the day she still returns home to a fussy baby. And now, with the Wife soon returning to work, she feels even more defeated because their time was spent this way, and not more enjoyable.
More evidence of our logical-wall getting in the way of being able to “go with the flow” is when other people ask us how we are doing. The Wife and I are pretty honest people. We’re not going to sugar-coat the situation for you; you asked, so we’re going to be honest. Where most people would say they are doing great; never better even, while they look like they have not slept in weeks, the Wife and I shoot you straight. We tell them is kind of blows, and the Ferris is kind of a dick most days. This is usually met with shocked and dumbfounded looks. Because let’s be honest, majority of people out there don’t “really” want to know how you’re doing. They just want to hear you say you’re doing great, that way they can feel good about themselves for asking. Listen, people, we’re not saying we don’t love the little booger, because we do with all our hearts. It’s just sometimes he’s kind of a jerk with the way he acts.
The few people who have been able to move past our brutal honesty have always given us the same advice, which in turns drives me nuts. And that is, “Oh, I’m sorry he’s so fussy. Don’t worry; it will get better with time.” Really?!? That’s your fucking advice? It will get better with time? Wow, thanks, now I feel so much better. I will always remember that when the boy is screaming in the middle of the night, or when he refuses to go to sleep for more than an hour out of the day. No more getting frustrated over here because I was given the Buddha-like words of wisdom of, “Don’t worry; it will get better with time.”
Seriously, why could this kid come with an instruction manual? You get an instructional type manual with every product you buy these days; from the 900 page owner’s guide in a new car that explains what to do if your car acts, feels, or sounds a certain way, to the simplest toy Lego set. Hell, even our baby monitor came with 2 types of instruction manuals; one big booklet (int 4 different languages) to read, and a 2 page cartoon illustrated dummy guide. The monitor gets 2, but the object we’re monitoring gets none? How does that make sense.
Honestly, hospitals should gigantic War and Peace sized owners guides to hand out to every new parent when they are being wheeled out of the hospital, it certainly would make things much easier. Instead, the dump you on the curb and wish you the best. They say, “Congratulations and good luck,” but what you really hear is, “Don’t fuck it up.”
No pressure or anything.