Story and I are visiting the ‘rents in Texas this week. It’s a hot summer in the Lone Star State, the kind where my chocolate bar becomes pliant on the walk from the store to the car, and where I go around the house all day with my hair wet at the roots for no good reason.
We have been having a fantastic time, except perhaps at night. Story’s teething, and several of our nights here have been punctuated with crying, and repeated trips to the rocker to lull her back to sleep. Even when she sleeps, it’s often fitful sleep, which means I get up after ten hours in bed feeling as though I’ve had two.
And so I thought I would share my trick for enduring the less-than-stellar moments with my baby. It’s one I picked up from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
When it’s four a.m. and the baby won’t sleep, and I can’t sleep because I’m the only parent around, I think to myself, “I’m grateful to be taking care of the baby right now.” And, amazingly enough, it works. Because the fact is, I am enormously grateful to have her. Wildly, exultingly, passionately grateful. Grateful that she is healthy, and whole, and here with me.
And I am grateful to be here at the beginning of it all, with everything stretching out ahead of me: Story walking, Story talking, Story learning to be silly and clever and generous. From the things I’ve heard older people say, it seems pretty clear that one day I will look back on these days as the very happiest of my life. And here I am, right at the start of them.
As I’ve been readying my book for self-publication, it’s been easy to fall into regret. Regret that I didn’t do it sooner, regret that I’m nearing thirty-five with only the merest scrap of a career. And there’s regret that I didn’t have a child sooner. Sometimes I find myself thinking back to some random moment in my past—say, that summer when I toured California with my best friend when I was about twelve—and thinking, how much time I had then, if only I had known it, how if I had an opportunity to live my life over I would use that time well.
But whatever mistakes I may have made in my life, there is this: me, and the baby, in a rocker in the middle of the night, just us two. Me a great source of comfort to her, and her a great source of joy to me. How could I possibly not be grateful for that?