Anyway, the next two hours required a lot of carrying, jiggling, changing positions, etc. and so on. I could get Anand to sleep periodically, but only if I was carrying him, and mostly only if he were upright. There was periodic twisting and flailing -- I thought gas might be an issue too, so I eventually gave him gripe water around 2:30, despite my doubts about its efficacy, which actually seemed to help a lot. But he still woke up when I tried to put him down, so then it was him sleeping in my arms for twenty minutes, until he finally seemed out soundly enough that I could put him down on the couch. I'm not going to try to go back to sleep at this point -- I'm wide awake, and it's too close to my normal waking time. And I don't trust him not to wake up again. So it's me and Anand on the couch for the next few hours. Hopefully he'll stay down, and I can get some writing done. Or at least nap.
Side note: I was talking to Roshani about gripe water, and how my mom always recommends it when babies are fussing, and how I've tried it a few times and it mostly doesn't seem to do much, and Roshani said, "That's because when your mom was using it in Sri Lanka thirty years ago, it had alcohol in it." Much more effective, no doubt. Sigh.
Anyway, there was actually a point to all of this. See, last night, when I was going to bed, I was exhausted, and I told Kevin that the whole weekend without childcare had felt like running a gauntlet, that we just kept trying to get through until the kids were asleep. And they were so rarely asleep at the same time. I hadn't had any time to write, or even read. I sort of managed to watch some tv, when Kavi would allow it, although the kids were loud enough that I missed a quarter of the dialogue. I did a few chores. But no real work, or real relaxation. I was miserable, and I admit that after talking to him, I cried myself to sleep a bit.
But now, even though my arms are aching and about to fall off, I'm oddly content. Some of that is having had four hours of sleep, I'm sure, which is much better than none. But I keep thinking about that article, "All joy and no fun." It wasn't fun in any way, getting up with Anand in the middle of the night. It wasn't joyful either. But there is something deeply satisfying about taking care of a sick child, especially when you manage to soothe them. It's a very concrete need they have, and one that you are uniquely qualified to care for. You, the parent, will make them feel better than anyone else on the planet -- the touch of your skin, the sound of your voice, is what will help them rest easier.
For most of us, I think most of the time, we aren't necessarily so sure that our lives are all that worthwhile, that what we're doing, whether it's work or play, is something that can't be done equally well by somebody else. Sometimes, when the writing is going well, or even when I have a particularly good teaching insight / conversation, I'll get that sense, that feeling that I'm doing exactly the right thing at that moment, the best thing I could be doing with my time.
Parenting, for all its travails, actually offers that feeling pretty often. To your kids, you are the center of their universe, and all they want is to be with you. Now, when they're healthy, I'm pretty much okay with saying they don't get what they want all the time, and that sometimes, my own needs for writing or reading or resting come first. But when they're sick -- that kind of trumps everything. And in a way, it's very peaceful. For this moment, there's nowhere else I should be. That's worth something.
Of course, if Anand starts screaming again and I can't soothe him, which sometimes happens, that's a level of frustration and exhaustion and worry that really has to be experienced to be believed. Especially after a few hours of it!