Be Careful What You Wish For

Have you seen Shrek 4? Shrek wishes for one day without any parenting responsibility. A day when the world made sense. It doesn’t work out exactly as planned. I totally understand where he’s coming from though. Just one day to live your old life again, released from the shackles of responsibility. Most of us would probably just sleep and wake up the next day refreshed and say: “It was worth it”.

If you’re one for gritting your teeth, squeezing your eyes shut and making desperate wishes, be careful what you ask for. One day the planets might align and grant it. It happened to me. One dark night, what feels like forever ago, I said, a little too loudly: “I wish I could help more with the bedtime routine”.

The room went cold. The lights flickered. The Wife turned her head slowly towards me. I’d made this wish before but this time the twitch above her right eye told me it had been granted. “Yes”, she said.

“Erm, what was that Dear? I need some olive oil for my ears.” I headed towards the kitchen with a finger in my ear, but she moved more quickly. Primal. The Baby, who was like a wild creature, looked at me with his fierce blue eyes and soaking wet everything. I reached a hand out, hoping to offer it some comfort, but rage and tears sprung from every atom of its being. Before I could back away, The Wife handed it to me, and silence filled the air. He knew the old days were gone. I was stuck thinking rational things like, I’ve just opened wine, I was about to watch a film, I’m such a better parent during the day.  

It didn’t matter. The Wife leapt onto the banister, turned, hissed, then pounced up the stairs, taking several at a time. The bedroom door was slammed shut. A heavy thud. Some incoherent muttering then a noise so uncanny I have no simile to describe it – I can only surmise that it was the sound of snoring.

I looked down at my son. I love this boy. I have no problem getting him to nap during the day. How hard could it be? Six months later … I have no concept of time … of self … I often consider crying … I only sweat under one armpit, never both, and he uses my scabby nipple as a comforter. These could be the final coherent words I manage to send from my brain to my toes. Fingers! I mean fingers. It has begun.

BY ADAM GLENNON