By John Jericiau
One of the joys of parenthood – one that hits you hard right out of the gate – is the insane sleep deprivation. Everybody’s talked and written about it ad nauseum. We know how lack of sleep affects our outlook on life, our health, and our ability to stay calm through all types of parenting challenges. We realize that lack of sleep takes years from our life and adds lines to your face. We see it contribute to an increase in waist size and a decrease in libido. These are inevitable, so if you’re about to become a new parent, get ready for them. If you’ve already been through it, then you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
I’m starting my fourth week of the 24/7 routine with our third son. I have that low level buzz going on in my head that only comes from weeks of sleeplessness combined with the ecstasy of watching our little boy grow. I love every minute but at the same time I want someone to take me out of my misery.
One thing that I have always forgotten about is how, each time I’m going through these first few months, I get reacquainted with late night television. I wonder if everyone has this experience. Every baby manual you read says that if you’re up feeding your baby in the middle of the night, try and maintain a quiet, dark, calm environment so that your baby will fall right back to sleep. Maybe it’s similar to my inability to be still for yoga or focused for meditation, but there is no way that I can sit for 25-45 minutes in a dark living room, staring silently at the wall while my son enjoys every slurp of his bottle, without getting the feeling that I’m about to go insane. I remember how much more pleasurable the experience was for me once I hit the power button of the remote lying right beside me. I was easily able to tolerate the bottle, burp, and even some skin-to-skin or tummy time as I enjoyed the new world that opened in front of me: the world of late, late night TV.
I’m not a huge fan of television in general. Alen and I have our favorites that we enjoy together, and to be honest I watch them more for the together time than for my pleasure. We like Real Housewives of Anywhere, Top Chef, and American Horror Stories. We only watch recorded shows so I have no idea what time these shows are actually broadcast. We watch these together during our final waking hours most nights, even if it’s just for a half hour, sometimes while we are eating our dinner.
So our mutual shows are off the table. I stick with cable TV only, beginning with CNN so I can get caught up on the events of the world that continues to spin on its axis despite the fact that we just had a baby. It’s incredible how exciting the current events of the world seem now that my days are spent monitoring poop and gas levels.
The channel surfing starts next, searching out any shows that have to do with child rearing. Jon & Kate Plus 8, 19 and Counting, Adoption Stories … I might as well make my choices applicable to my current situation. Plus, these shows make the single baby cuddled on my lap a little easier to handle.
My father was a NYC detective for many years, so that might explain why I will next search out all types of crime shows. Cops, Locked Up, I (Almost) Got Away With It, Nancy Grace Mysteries, Kidnapped, Wives With Knives, Law & Order SVU; who knew there were so many crazies in the world. Living by the beach does not really expose me to this seedy side of the world, but watch some of these shows and you start looking over your shoulder, checking and double-checking the back door lock, and worst of all you start worrying about things happening to you and your family. I’ve probably spent an above average amount of time worrying anyway. I’ve given the criminals out there every reason to harm the harmony of my family. People don’t tolerate the thought of gays marrying, let alone raising kids, so those so inclined might feel they are justified in taking or harming one of us. The boys are beautiful; kidnappers might have no problem taking them because we are not in their eyes the “real” parents. Some people out there actually hate us. “Every 40 seconds in the US, a child is reported missing or abducted” reports Nancy Grace. That’s roughly 2000 children per DAY. I figure the odds are not on our side because of our sexual orientation. I run upstairs and check on the boys in their bed, wiggle the lock on their bedroom window, and peek inside their walk-in closet, just to be sure.
On a typical evening about five shows have been watched before the baby finally falls asleep with a belly full of formula, and after a burp or two I lay him beside me so I can keep him safe. My mind is racing with horrible thoughts of what lies beneath and who goes there, and I wonder how I’m going to get myself to fall asleep.
Then I remember that I’m not sleeping anyway.