Eventually you just drop off

It’s 11:14pm and Abigail’s been asleep for 45 minutes or so. This should not be the case. She should have been asleep for about three hours or so. I don’t think either of us do well when her mother’s out of town.

Here is a rough, annotated timeline of what happens when my wife is out of town for business or a girls’ weekend or even just out for the night.

8pm
“This is awesome. I am going to eat pizza and drink beer and play video games and watch movies Erin hates and stay up late.”

9pm
Pizza and beer consumed. Watch half of a movie that turns out to be terrible, spend 20 minutes looking through Netflix to find something else to watch and fail, read five pages of a book, check Twitter a thousand times then stare at the couch.

9:43pm
Have become significantly fatigued due to pizza and beer. Refuse to go to sleep early. Resolve to stay up until The Daily Show.

9:46pm
Text Erin: “What’s going on?”

10:00pm
Turn on The Daily Show, spirit renewed.

10:12pm
Pass out on couch

Somehow, when Erin – a woman who has no problem with me eating pizza, drinking beer, staying up late or watching movies/playing video games she doesn’t like so long as I do so in another room – is away I am driven by a desire to live the life I imagined for myself when I was 14. As if somehow my choice of food and entertainment choices is impeded through marriage. As if I would stay married to a woman like that.

I dislike it when my wife isn’t around for a night of two. I miss her. The house is really quiet. The bed’s too big, as Sting once sang.

And truth be told, the post-Abigail era has meant when Erin is out of town my magnetic north points upstairs to the little girl in the crib in the room at the north end of the house. There’s generally still beer and pizza but I never know if Abigail will wake up and need soothing to go back to sleep. There’s a sword of Damocles is what I’m saying. My priorities have changed.

Erin and I have jobs that occasionally require us to disrupt our lives at home. On some occasions, she carries more of the burden. On others, it’s me. But we’re lucky enough to be at jobs that appreciate the priority we place on family. So if sometimes it means one of has to be a solo parent, that’s the gig.

After an uneventful first night with Erin away, AG woke up at 6am this morning, yelling to be picked up. When things are in a normal state of affairs around here, she goes down around 730-8pm and sleeps until 7am. Don’t think I don’t know how blessed that makes us as parents. But this morning, I didn’t get my usual hour of prepping for the day ahead – coffee, news-reading, a shower, emptying the dishwasher and whatever else is easier to do with a sleeping baby – before Abigail is awake and demanding Elmo.

Tonight she was similarly stubborn. Took a good half hour to go down then was up here and there, requiring two sessions of in-the-glider cuddling before finally dropping off for good. Getting a toddler back into the crib after she’s fallen asleep on you is some Indiana-Jones-with-a-bag-of-sand stuff. I’m usually pretty good at it but she was fighting it tonight. Still outran the boulder though.

Yesterday my boss gently alluded to my two-night solo parenting stretch and I took the opportunity to assure her it was no big deal since I was quite the active father and not like those other dads who can’t be left alone with the kid for more than a few hours at a time because they get all freaked out about diapers and what have you. She hadn’t implied any of that but I wanted to let her know it all the same.

Hubris.

If you have a kid who blesses you with the regularity of schedule, you’ll likely get used to it. I know we have. But when your kid spends her first four months struggling with colic and reflux, you’ll always feel like that pattern is never far from repeating itself.

Abigail finally dropped off for good around 10:30pm. Maybe she wanted to stay up for The Daily Show.

It’s 12:27am. Erin just texted me: “Landed.” I’ll probably go pass out now.

Like I said, neither of us do well when her mother is out of town.

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