Happy stress day to us (Letter 012)

Selfie detail of a very tired Papa Zesser, 2020-04-19.

Sunday, April 20, 2020

My darling Baobao,

Yesterday was your birthday — of sorts. At 18:59, you passed your eight month anniversary out of the womb. 245 days on this good earth!

I had intended to write a celebratory note to you after you went to sleep last night, but yesterday itself turned into more of a cautionary tale than the wistful celebration we had hoped for.

Not to put too fine a point to it, or to try to make you feel retrospectively guilty, you were a royal pain in the ass yesterday.

Selfie showing tired Papa Zesser holding Baobao on 2020-04-19.
Happy birthday?

You woke me up, as normal, around 08:00 hours and took your normal breakfast of just under 200 millilitres of your mother’s finest (making sure, of course, to leave about 10 millilitres behind for the fairies. Baobao’s motto: Never leave an empty bottle behind!), but that was where normal ended.

You refused your usual après déjeuner nap and, in fact, managed only about an hour and a half worth of nap time all day.

When we tried to put you down you didn’t cry, you screamed. Turning red-in-the-face howling it was. And when you weren’t howling, you were loudly keening, fussing, babbling …

It didn’t end, my darling girl, until after 22:00 hours last night, leaving your mother and I frazzled and snapping at each other, when we weren’t shaking our heads in mutual amazement and asking each other, How do parents with more than one kid do it? and How do parents with difficult children do it?

Because it’s true: despite yesterday’s histrionics, you have mostly been an incredibly easy baby to handle. We have been very lucky so far.

You are (knock wood: You have been) mostly a cheerful baby, so long as you’re not hungry and your diaper is clean; you can play well by yourself in my office/your future bedroom (what? A guilt trip, my darling girl? Heaven forfend!) for half an hour to an hour at a time; you seldom cry except when you need something tangible; and you have been sleeping through the night since you were little more than two months old.

And still, yesterday — just one bad day — you drove us almost to distraction.

So here’s a toast to you, my darling, to acknowledge the joy you’ve brought to us for the past eight months (because you have, no matter my complaints here), and a second toast with a fuller glass, to acknowledge that we have had it so very easy compared to so many other parents — here’s to those parents of colicky babies, of sick babies, of handicapped babies, and also to single parents of all sorts of babies!

I doff my cap and bare my balding head to all those who manage in more difficult circumstances than ours, because sometimes ours seem really hard, and it can be hard to imagine how it can be harder.

Meanwhile, as I type these words, you’ve been asleep for an hour since you broke your fast this morning, and all seems right with the world.

Photo of baobao engaged in after-breakfast nap, 2020-04-20.
Sleeping the sleep of angels, following a post-birthday breakfast, April 20, 2020.

I wish you a belated happy (eight month) birthday, Baobao, and us, an easier day than yesterday.

Love always,

Your papa, Zesser

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  • Kirsti says:

    Yes, nothing stays the same, especially with growing children. Our first child woke every 2 hours for her first 18 months, stopped napping after 8 months, and was still a cheerful though demanding baby. Our second slept 5 hours each night plus from birth and took two long naps each day until he wa 18 months old. Their personalities today reflect that early pattern!

    • Papa Zesser says:

      “Our first child woke every 2 hours for her first 18 months …”

      I can’t even imagine!

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