Lamentby Peter Barlow
During the day it's a series of hyperventilations: he wants fed, he wants burped, he's got a dirty diaper, he wants held. That's the one his father has the most problems with, the holding, and probably that's because his father didn't hold him very much or maybe because that self-same father was not the most expressive with his emotions like a lot of fathers then weren't. The little one, the toddler, the baby, doesn't care. He wants held or burped or changed or fed, and so he gets held or burped or changed or fed.
But at night it's different. At night the baby sleeps, peacefully, breathing in and out like somebody who's been doing that a lot longer than he has, nice and even, unhurried. He takes up real estate between his mother and father in the bed, and when his parents wake up bruised in the ribs from his random kicks his mother doesn't seem to mind too much. The father, though, still objects although he knows enough to know there's no point in objecting. He doesn't want the baby in the bed. He would like the extra real estate back. He would like to not suffer a mysterious middle-of-the-night injury.
One night the father is home late. He's been out; the where doesn't matter. Mother and baby are already asleep. He lies down quietly, trying not to disturb either one. No sooner does he hit the mattress than his son the baby starts wiggling but it's only a small change in position. In this moment he wants to hold his son, look into his eyes, and become someone else entirely, but he doesn't. He knows what sort of crying and fussing picking him up would cause. And as he drifts off to sleep he wonders if he'll ever be that man that can hold his son without thinking, "How did this happen?"