Poli Poli Parenting: How to not be a Jackass

I managed to get all the way up Kilimanjaro (5 steps behind my wife) with a philosophy based on being present, focused on the step I was taking, not looking up or down, not dwelling on the what-ifs,  not fighting the mountain, leaving my ego at basecamp, and just walking quietly with senses open to take it all in.  On the mountain the Swahili word for it is poli poli which literally means slowly slowly but, if you think about it for long enough (and at a high enough elevation), you realize it also means all that other stuff I just said.   I thought I’d learned something from the experience that might serve me well as a parent when we found out a short while later that Jennifer was pregnant.

Fast forward a couple years to two weeks ago and the Lil Lady was turning 4-months, sleeping through the night, gaining weight, smiling all the time in a way that just crushes you, riding all day in the car road-tripping through the mountains with her dad, flying on an airplane like a pro.  That’s my little girl and I’m so happy and filled up with goodness that I can hardly stand it.   And that’s when the it all came crashing down like Greek tragedy.  I still remember the foolish words I spoke to Jennifer that night when I was feeling so good.  “You know, I think all those years in the classroom set me up perfectly for this whole parenting thing.”  And then I said something even stupider about how patient I’d become and how much that was helping me in raising our daughter.  I’m shaking my head as I write this.

That very night Amelia hit the four-month sleep regression and kept us up all night, the next day I came down with some kind of bug (pretty sure it was the cholera or the bubonic plague) with a fever, nausea, aches, sore throat and a swollen glands.  We obviously didn’t want the Lil Lady catching it, so that meant hands-off for me and put all the parenting on Jennifer.  The next thing I know, I find myself pathetically wallowing around in bed all night while my wife (who had 12 hours of meetings the next day) is getting up with our daughter four times.    And let’s face it, if you’re a stay-at-home dad who can’t go in the same room as your baby, you’re just an unemployed ass hole.

And so, the next day, still not having learned my lesson, I did the only thing a fool could do under the circumstances, I pretended to feel better, popped a couple Advil, and went to my soccer game to try to play.  I nearly passed out in the heat which was embarrassing enough, but then, in my stupor I arrived late to a ball and got my foot rearranged by the defender leaving me not only sicker after the game, but also unable to walk.  Jennifer just shook her head when I got home.  Obviously, she had told me so.

Rather than turn this into a long drawn-out sob story though, I’ll just cut to the chase: virus hung on for another week (luckily Amelia never got it), foot wasn’t broken but my foot-modeling days are definitely over, 4-month sleep regression appears to apply to the entire 4th month, and I definitely learned my lesson.

What lesson? When its going well, be thankful and assume its because you’re lucky and not because you’re super awesome Flanneldad.  Back to poli poli parenting for this old jackass, at least, until the next time my ego gets the better of me.



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