Finding Momentum

The night tiger

The past six weeks have been nearly blissful. You’ve surprised us all, son, to learn that you are actually a rather happy baby when you’re not uncomfortable. I’ve surprised myself too, feeling intense fondness for you in your moments of simple, unbridled joy. What a difference from the first few harrowing months.

These are certainly days of bliss - laughing at your progress and recounting your new skills to family. One night, you decide to even sleep entirely through the night. We are stunned.

But of course, our fortunes do change and you refuse to be tamed. Without warning, we’re thrown back onto your fickle whims of your sleep times. You cry so hard you choke on your saliva. We pull you out after each episode; you are covered in cold sweat. Your cries are so primal they make my spine tingle and my insides shrivel.

Today was such a day. You refused a nap in the afternoon, crying to be pulled out. You refused an early bedtime, fraying our nerves with your caterwauling cries. I felt trapped, a beast in a cage. I was angry at you. I was angry at everybody. I was angry that I was angry. I was once again falling down a hole of fear and anger and self-loathing and helplessness.

Annie noticed my bad attitude and ordered me out of the house. I gladly obliged and drove up to the hills where I jogged onto the trails. The air was crisp and families were slowly making their way to the exits. The sun hung low and burned blood orange, and I wondered whether you needed to see the sky dim before you knew it was time to sleep.

I wasn’t planning to run hard but soon a jog turned into a trot turned into a gallop. I threw myself up the hills, lungs burning for air and vision blurring. I nearly imagined I wouldn’t make it back in time; I was out too far. I was in too deep. My mouth was dry; I couldn’t spit.

Sinews and bone, blood and oxygen, dirt and tears. The only thing left to do is to run hard and run fast. On the last mile, I raced a dog and its cycling owner back to the parking lot - the dog charged up the hills but trotted on the flats. I silently celebrated my victory, at least I had that. My legs burned, but I was no longer caged.

It was dark when I cracked open the front door. The house was quiet, the tiger asleep.