It’s 4 a.m. – the worst time, and Alice, 6 months old, is crying. Again. The last time was 40 minutes ago. The time before that an hour and a half. I’ve lost track of the times before that. But I’ve had enough. It’s late. Or early. I’ve had no sleep, and I’ve got important things to do in the morning.
Six months. That’s conceivably old enough for her to be trying it on, isn’t it? This is beginning to feel a little bit like a tantrum. I’ll let her work it out. But she’s not stopping. She still isn’t stopping. She’s just working up to more and more distress. So I pick her up. Of course I do. And I hug, and I soothe, but above all I beg, because I don’t know what else to do. She comes into our bed, and with some hugs, and kisses, and songs she gets back off to sleep.
I look at the clock and decide I may as well get up. And I go to work, and I type, almost on autopilot. And I go to Smith’s where I forget to buy what I went in for, and leave my debit card in the machine when I go back in. And then I go home.
“Alice’s first tooth has come through!” And in six words, the confusion of the night before crystallises into sense. And I feel awful, because it wasn’t remotely a tantrum and I was horrible. Those important things I had to do suddenly feel minuscule.
And I feel wonderful because she’s growing up and I’m there to see it.
And I go to her, and she looks at me, and beams that big toothless grin – not so toothless now, and I sit beside her, and she reaches out and rests her hand on me. And whatever she’s capable of thinking or feeling, I feel welcome, forgiven and loved – wholly and unconditionally.
And as wonderful as it feels there’s also the fear that however hard I try, and whatever I do to try to stop it, she’s going to grow up to be just like me.