If I could give Sarah any possible gift for her birthday, it would be the gift of sleep. I’ll think she’d appreciate somewhere around fourteen straight hours about now. And I could easily give her this gift... if only I could place the baby in a state of suspended animation for somewhere around fourteen hours. She’s crazy, that Susannah. Our worst sleeper yet. Teddy was great, then Veronica woke up every three hours until she was a year and a half, and then there’s Susannah, who wakes up about five times a night on average. But Sarah takes constant care of her because Sarah is amazing. She’ll nurse the baby to sleep as many times as it takes. When it comes to her family, she is selfless by default. She probably wouldn’t agree with that statement. She’d probably point out some instance where she put her needs first, and she’d make it sound like that was something that occurred frequently. But any occasional selfish act is dwarfed by all the unselfish ones. All the foregone sleep, all the time sunk into doing laundry and making lunches, all the hours committed to school events and councils – and these time commitments and sacrifices keep growing.
And she’s taking additional time off after her maternity leave to stay home with the baby, just like she did with Veronica. It’s one more big commitment to add to the pile. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t think I really realized what that meant the first time around. I think in my head the sacrifices and the benefits balanced out somehow. Yeah, I guess the kids are demanding, but isn’t it such a nice break from work? I know better now. Kids are hard. And babies are boring, y’all. I mean, In brief installments they’re cute, and sweet, and endlessly interesting – but if you’re with them for any serious length of time, they’re pretty dull. They’re tedious, and they’re in and out of urgent states of need all day long, and they’ll never say thank you, and they never come close to understanding everything you’ve done for them in a day. Regardless, knowing all this and knowing it well, Sarah is extending her tour of duty until the start of the next school year. It’s like the opposite of leisure time, and she offered to do it without reservation of any kind.
As long as I’ve been a parent I’ve been highly conscious of those folks who are better at it than I am. The ones who are more creative, more outdoorsy, more self-assured – they’re who I want to be. Generally speaking, I don’t look at these people competitively, I look to them for inspiration. Well, the more time goes on, the more I find that it’s Sarah who inspires me.