Monday, March 12, 2012
Another Tale from the Locker Room ...
My locker that day was at the end of a row, permitting me a view of the large open central area of the room. And there, a young man--could he have been more than twenty? he looked even younger--had laid his infant son on a towel in the middle of the floor and was engaging in that most parental of tasks: changing a diaper.
The young man was fresh from the shower (I'd seen before the phenomenon of young fathers holding infant children in their arms while they exercised and then showered), only partially dressed himself, but he was bent to this task with a combination of gravity (got to get this done!) and humor (he was playful with the child, smiling and laughing).
I caught his eye. He smiled. I said, "You don't know what 'tired' is until you're a parent."
"You got that right," he laughed back. "He was up half the night, and every time I had just fallen asleep ..."
Parents know the rest of the sentence, the rest of the story.
When our son, Steve, was born on 16 July 1972, our lives changed overnight--and permanently. (Only parents really understand this.) Suddenly, we no longer went wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We no longer slept more than a few hours a night (we took turns with the feedings). We no longer knew what a meal was like, what a house without a diaper pail smelled like. (Oh, you in the Pampers generation have no idea!) Every night, every day, every week, every month ... suddenly, the future seemed forever away. When would he sleep through the night? When would we have a moment to ourselves? When could we reason with him (answer to that one: never!).
Gradually, of course, a sweet little boy emerged from that crying bundle of bad smells. And we enjoyed his childhood immensely, taking him everywhere (plays, movies, trips)--babysitters were charging $1.50 an hour--outrageous!
His infancy is now nearly forty years in the distance--but in those ensuing decades I have never been so tired as I was those first few months with that imperious and mysterious infant stranger in the house.
And so I salute that young man in the locker room, kneeling over his child, smiling, weary with work, animated by wonder.
PS--Steve and his wife, Melissa, now have two of their own: Logan (7), Carson (about to be 3.) Great little boys = lots of lost sleep ...