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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

a day in the life

well here we are, six months into parenthood. as the old saying goes, time flies when you're having fun. sure, but when you're a parent time takes on a whole new dimension: the days are looooong but the weeks just melt away. i often find myself sitting here thinking these two thoughts simultaneously. 1) jesus i can't believe it's already november. 2) fuck me, i can't believe it's only 3 PM!

here's a day in the life:

3 o'clock in the unholy cocksucking AM: baby wakes up crying even though she is not hungry or needing to be changed. mrs nice guy and i begin the timeless game of Parent Chicken: we both pretend to be blissfully asleep long enough for the other person to crack. usually the kid will end up getting fed so she'll shut up and go back to bed

sometime between 5:30 AM and 7 AM: the kid starts the day. if it's before 6 we usually let her cry it out until then. if it's after 6, the kid gets changed, brought into our room and fed where despite our silent pleas she does not fall asleep again. she smiles, rolls around, pulls our hair. it's generally this time of day that she is in her best mood. 6 AM and in her best mood? i will submit this fact as exhibit A at the paternity trial, proof that this is not my child.

7 - 8:30 AM: mrs nice guy leaves the baby in bed with me so she can take a shower, pump, eat breakfast. as i drift back to sleep, neglecting the baby who is precariously teetering by the edge of the bed, my mind stretches into the past, attempting to pinpoint to the last time i enjoyed the luxury of bathing myself, and comes up with: august? maybe? mrs nice guy returns to our room to get dressed while i pretend like i had been awake all along and paying attention to the baby during her shower. look at me making my daughter laugh! she is in good hands! (speaking of laughing: the baby has this new hilarious tiny old maid cackle. she watches patiently as you turn yourself into a total imbecile attempting to get a smile. gradually, when she decides you have worked hard enough, she will crack a little grin. then you redouble your efforts, looking like a total asshole, until she goes "aheh aheh!" clearly laughing at what a freakin' chump you are, not with your innovating parenting skillz.)

8:30 AM: mrs nice guy goes to work and pretends to be sad to be leaving me and the baby, the two most squalid stinky dishevelled societal dregs in brooklyn, as she flees to Grown-up Land where she rarely endures entire days without a single conversation. once mom departs it is usually, conveniently, about time for baby's first nap. the only way to get her to fall asleep is by cradling her in your arms as you walk up and down the hallway until your toenails bleed. depending how tired she is, this takes between five and 835 minutes. when she's really tired, she begins moaning as you walk with her. HHHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNMMMMMMMM HHHHHHHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNMMMMMMMM! this is how she lets you know she's about to fall asleep. it's very cute and absolutely hilarious ... until she does it when she is in the baby bjorn and you are walking down a crowded sidewalk and people wonder what terrible things you are doing to your daughter to make her caterwaul in such a manner. this is when it quickly goes from funny to mortifying.

so she falls asleep in my arms and i put her down in her crib. usually, she wakes up the instant she hits the mattress and begins screaming bloody murder: YOU FUCKING TRAITOR! YOU WERE JUST GOING TO DITCH ME TO GO DOWNLOAD PORN AGAIN WEREN'T YOU, PERV GRIFFIN?! so we repeat the process and her moans become increasingly less cute and i put her down when she's asleep. i put her down on her belly because she can't sleep on her back so naturally the second i put her down on her belly she flips herself over and starts howling again: HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO SLEEP ON MY BACK LIKE THIS? WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU ANYWAY? i start wondering if mrs nice guy would notice if i swapped the baby for another one, snatched out of some Park Slope stroller from under an unwatchful nanny's nose. eventually the baby falls asleep (i am not above putting her face down in her crib with a blanket over her body, tucked in very tightly so she can't flip over and wake herself up. that's right: i strap my baby down in her crib. what are you going to do about it? call child protective services? here's their number: 212-504-4115)

10 AM: the child wakes up screaming in some far-flung corner of her crib. usually she is in some contortionist's pose and unclear on how to unfold herself. so i plop her on the changing table -- she loves the changing table. she smiles and squeals and grabs my wrist with both hands, tugging at it adorably as she attempts to eat my arm. so next she plays a little in her hideous exersaucer, then eats some rice cereal and fruit while i listen to NPR, an oasis of dulcet conversational tones. usually while important people hold court -- like council on foreign relations president richard haass opining middle east policy -- i make monkey faces.

and so from here on out the day unfolds in two hour intervals (damn you, dr. weissbluth!): two hours of awake-time between pseudo-sleeping -- two hours of play, food, pleading, soul-selling, face-making and looong walks followed by my daughter's excuses for "naps." i spend every minute desperately trying to entertain her -- i grimace; i make up awesome songs ("oooh, let's change your pants and do the change-your-pants-dance"); i throw her high in the air in ways that would make her mother nervous; i play guitar (it pleases me to no end that she at least feigns enjoyment of the acoustical stylings of mr nice guy); we go for walks in the park; we go for walks to the record store; we go for walks to get daddy cup of coffee #8,457 of the day; we go to the swings where we stand next to mostly nannies and the odd stay-at-home-mom, all of whom talk to my daughter, IGNORING ME COMPLETELY, even though of us both i am the only one who can ostensibly engage in conversation; we run errands (oh, errands, i do so love thee -- you give me an achievable goal, errands -- something tangible with which to prove to myself that i still have worth!); we practise rolling over and standing up; i show her the baby in the mirror, who she loves in a way that is not entirely natural.

all that lasts about 15 minutes. then we lather, rinse and repeat as needed until naptime (wherein we start again with the hall-walking, the baby-moaning, the crying-when-she-is-actually-put-into-her-crib). then i curse the gods for not giving me a child who naps every two hours like every other baby on earth supposedly does. what do parents of napping children do with all their free time?

[in the occasional event of Acute Baby Meltdown, i may exercise the nuclear option: the cats. she hearts cats. when she's totally freaking out and screaming and her face is melting off her skull, smoke billowing from her little ears as the crown of her head bursts into flames of rage and hate, i scoop her up and sit her in front of the cats. and she instantly smiles! she gurgles with joy, beaming with intense love! she leans forward and grabs two fists-full of feline fur and yanks the kitties towards her open mouth with all her strength, which judging by the cats' response is quite considerable. sometimes i'll just dangle her over the cats, who are usually found curled up in a little catball on our bed. they eye her nervously as she kicks her tiny legs and drools maniacally, ecstatic for the opportunity to eat them. eventually, babycalm is restored. (i admit, however, that this is probably a tenable solution only until cat mutiny ensues, which is bound to be any day now, when i wake up some awful night to find them clawing my lower intestine out of my slumbering body). in the meantime, the cats are great for restoring peace. cats. who knew? maybe richard haass should recommend sending my cats to the middle east to distract tensions out there?]

some time around 4 PM i call my one friend in brooklyn who still pretends to tolerate me. she has two semi-grown kids and no more babies in her future. she is back in school, so she is usually around and bribe-able: "i'll let you hold the baby AND buy you drinks if you meet me at the Gate." so we meet up at the bar on the corner where i foist my daughter on her until either the kid melts down or it's time to feed her again or i get too drunk to stand or, usually, all of the above.

and so it goes in two-hour intervals until mrs nice guy calls to tell me that she is running late and will be home at 6:38 instead of 6:35 PM. when i am given this news i usually reply with something courteous, acknowledging the fact that she is the main breadwinner and i am grateful for all the hard work she does to keep us in diapers: WHAT? YOU SAID YOU WOULD BE HOME AT 6:35! FOR EVERY MINUTE YOU ARE LATE I WILL REMOVE ONE OF YOUR CHILD'S FINGERS!

when mrs nice guy comes home it's bath-time and i hand over the child, who instantly becomes a gleeful, pleasant, placated angelbaby. i pour myself a glass of wine (elaborately pretending like i'm not already eleven sheets to the wind) and ... proceed to cook dinner before passing out, exhausted and unready to do it all again in the morning. and that's about it. so ...

think about that and then be utterly amazed that i ever have time to update. MARVEL AT THE SHIMMERING BRILLIANCE THAT IS THE TRANSCENDENT GENIUS OF THIS BLOG. or better yet ... send me a check.


Anonymous Tanyetta said...

I am busting up over here. Your post was totally hilarious! And to think I was the only one thinking I had the most dependent baby on this earth. I can totally relate to the crib situation. HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!! You totally rock!

11/15/2005 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw, my son did the same horrible awful non-napping thing, and then around 11 months old he suddenly started sleeping 12 hours at night and having a 3 hour nap in the afternoons, it's like he's making up for all that time and it's freaking amazing...let me tell you! I feel like a new person, here's hoping for ya!

11/15/2005 11:53 PM  
Anonymous kate in salt lake said...

Oh christ almighty, I thought I was going to start sobbing over the pure brilliance of this post. I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. Hang in there mr. nice guy!

11/16/2005 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing, and writing so well. I have been reading your blog since May, and I love it. This was the first blog I ever read.
You have addicted me to the internet.
What with the links and all.

11/16/2005 3:23 AM  
Blogger Mary P. said...

This is too great. Brought me back to my first child (who will turn twenty in two weeks). Pacing the hall, pacing, pacing, watching those well-beloved eyes droop, then fly open when I put her down, watching her body go limp, then watching it go rigid like the crib mattress hid a cattle prod...over and over...

By my third child, I was too old and tired for all that. I put her in the crib and Walked Away. Had a shower. Called a friend. Cleaned the kitchen. (Ha!) Didn't come back for two hours. And - surprise! - she was a great napper.

Not that I'm giving advice, or anything, because that would be so rude, coming from a total stranger. As a nap-deprivation survivor, I salute you!

11/16/2005 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it you who said that when someone asks them what they DO says, "I'm a stay-at-home-Dad, & the pay sucks"?
By the way, you just transcribed my entire existence. You left out the part about how although you basically appear to do nothing all day, there is no time to clean the house - does mr nice guy do the cleaning?

11/16/2005 10:08 AM  
Blogger Denotsko said...

Was gonna put the check in the mail, but I'm out of stamps. Guess you'll have to come by and pick it up.

11/16/2005 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote Homer Simpson, "It's funny because it's true!"

11/16/2005 3:52 PM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

anonymous #3: i do most of the marketing and most of the cooking these days. i tidy up. but cleaning ... eh, not so much. the place manages to stay basically spotless, but we have a little help twice a month. i admit it: a cleaning lady. best money we ever spent.

11/16/2005 4:48 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Histerical, as usual.

Ny son is the same way. NO NAP unless there is a boob in his mouth or he is on someones lap.

I would, however, like to welcome you to the realm of stay-at-home-parenthood.

Ain't is just a bowl of cherries??? LOL!

11/16/2005 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait until you wake up in the middle of the night and find the kid wrapped around the cat and said cat purring like heaven. Happened to us and ours (7 months baby, old old cat) and we laughed ourselves silly in the dark.

11/16/2005 9:16 PM  
Blogger birthfree said...

The humming to sleep... yes, I have one of those and you're right, it's cute the first round, but when you're waiting for it to cease (round 15 and counting) (and then have to add another 5 - 10 minutes for REAL sleep), it's not so cute.

Great post, so real life.

11/16/2005 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better keep BNG in the Bjorn at The Gate.....did you see that someone "unapologetically" stepped on someone elses dog at The Gate? Sheesh.

11/16/2005 9:39 PM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

i SWEAR i apologized after stepping on that guy's dog.

11/16/2005 10:00 PM  
Anonymous CroutonBoy said...

Brilliant post...but now I'm terrified of the future. We don't have cats, but I swear to god I will happily adopt every mouse-eating, box-shitting, crotch-licking creature I can find rummaging through our dumpster if my daughter ever goes into full meltdown like that.

I'll have to recommend the Gate to my wife...she enjoys being a SAHM more when Bombay Sapphire is involved

11/18/2005 11:30 AM  

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