That Moment When… a man realizes a few facts about fatherhood.
IN WHICH I TOOK A MOMENT
by Clayton Zeimet
Every night this week has felt like hell. Every night this week, my one-year-old has struggled to go down at bedtime. Oliver has gotten up around ten needing rocked back down again. He is still teething, though I thought that was over last week. I’m also sure his tummy has been upset for the past three days or so.
I’m writing tonight about a moment that happened just a few nights ago as I went to put him down to bed. The bath went smooth, despite me getting soaked with some big splashes of bath water. He struggled getting into his pajamas. When his hands went into the sleeves, he freaked out when his fingers were no longer visible. Everything went back to normal as soon as he was in daddy’s arms. Mamma gave him a kiss and left the room, and I began to rock the little munchkin down to sleep.
I sang and I sang, rocking back and forth in the darkness. His little fingers gripped my shirt. When I felt his little body go limp, I set him down in the crib with hopes that he had fallen asleep. Getting out of the room after setting him down is the hard part, but I managed. A few minutes later, crying. This wasn’t just normal baby crying. It was loud, horrendous, soul-searing baby crying. His little legs somehow got stuck in the crib bars. I went into his room, and started rocking him again. It took forever for him to drift back into his dreams.
As I rocked him, the moment happened. Some thought crept into my mind and wouldn’t let me go. I felt like a captive to the gnawing thought, the realization that my relationship with my baby had changed. I also realized right then and there, that the relationship would continue to change.
He is not the same baby that he was a year ago.
God. These words hurt me, as I thought them to myself. I remember waking up and going into his room night after night, rocking my son down to sleep when something woke him in the night. When did this change? When did I stop needing to go in there as often? As I thought about it, he’s needed calming less and less. While this doesn’t seem like the worst thought, at first, it’s what the thought led to that hit me the hardest.
Someday he won’t need to be rocked.
I’m going to miss this. I’m going to miss this moment. Someday he will take his last bottle of milk. Someday I will change his last diaper. Someday not far from today, my son will be a little boy who won’t need me in the same capacity as he needs me now, and I’m going to miss it.
Is this fear? Am I allowed to fear my children growing up? I rocked him for a long time the other night. I wanted to savor that moment, of my little sleeping child breathing on my chest. I want to savor all these moments. I don’t want to get frustrated that he doesn’t go to sleep right away. I want to make sure I enjoy these special moments with my little boy before he’s all grown up.
Make sure you take time for the little moments. These moments fade away. You may not have children, or you might. It’s not just moments with our children that are important. There will come a day when you give your mom and dad a last hug. There will come a day when you call your sister for the last time. The change is slow. You won’t even realize these last moments when they come, and they’ll be history before you know it. Savor every moment. Take the time to make it last.
From here on out, I know I’m going to.
(This is the first guest post on Minister Is a Verb. It was written by Clayton Zeimet, who retains all rights to the piece. Posted September 8, 2015. Please follow his blog at www.claytonzeimet.com.)