The Bane of Awakening [part 1/4]


The first defectively dampened whisper I heard this morning was, “Mama, he looks like Bane!”

“Who’s Bane?”

“The evil guy in Batman who wears the scary mask.”

“I was thinking Darth Vader,” she replied.


“Shh!!!  You’ll wake Pops!”

“Darth Vader?!”,  he stage whispers nearly as loud.  “He doesn’t look anything like Darth Vader!”

“He doesn’t?  He sounds like him, but you know Star Trek better than me.”


“Shh!!!  Please don’t wake Pops!”

“Sorry, Star Wars, Mama.  They’re totally different.  Old people like Pops, only really know Star Trek.”

“Okay, already.  But didn’t Darth Vader have trouble breathing too?”

“Yes, but he’s in an iron lung encased in black body armor.  Pops looks more like Bane.”

This is how many of my days begin.  Usually, I’m sound asleep, looking heart stoppingly adorable with my mouth half open, drooling on the sheets while my son builds a pillow fort around me like Gulliver.  This morning is only a slight variation on the same theme.

Since I am the only one keeping my peace at this time, I surrender it with groggy reticence.  “You know I can hear everything you two are saying, right?”  

“Sorry, Beloved.  We were trying not to wake you.”

“I heard every valiant attempt.”

“Pops, I’m glad you’re awake,” my boy says.

“You’re not supposed to be glad.  You’re supposed to be apologetic,” I groan.

“Oh, right.  Sorry for waking you, but Mama says you look like Darth Vader, and I think you look like Bane.  Who’s right?”  

I suppose an explanation is in order here.

Pretty much from the time he was a zygote, I have blamed my exhaustion and energy levels on my adorable 9-year old.  I was the Modern Dad who got up for all of the middle of the night feedings, assisting my wife in ways our fathers never pondered.  I’m not entirely proud to admit I got a little full of myself about it too.  I droned to friends and strangers alike that I could barely stay awake because, “Oh, sorry.  I was up all night with the baby.”  I confess I got some serious mileage out of that.

People would usually respond along the lines of, “Wow, you’re such a GOOD father!  Your wife and son are SO lucky.”

I would smile weakly, yawn and then say something humble like, “Oh, I do what I can.  Men can’t birth babies, but we should darn well help with the after birth.”   I think my wife found these comments annoying enough that she didn’t let me know right away that “afterbirth” was probably not the proper choice of words.

One of the things I’ve learned about fatherhood is that the previous generation of Dads set the bar so low that it’s pretty easy to be a “spectacular father” these days just by showing up.  Being a spectacular mother is a thousand times more difficult, especially if you’d like to do something other than be a full-time Mom.  More on that at a later date.

The problem with my “I-was-up-all-night” routine was it was hard to keep believable as the boy aged.  By the time he was 3 or so, he could sleep through the night.   I couldn’t.  I’d wake up at odd hours and never be able to get back to sleep.  My whole life I could fall asleep standing up at a rock concert, and now I couldn’t fall back asleep in my bed. That went on for another 5 years or so, until a combination of herbs and mineral supplements seemed to do the trick and I was sleeping through the night.

Or so I thought.


[To be continued...]


12 thoughts on “The Bane of Awakening [part 1/4]

  1. Guys in my generations pioneered that waking-up-to-care-for-the-baby routine. We were both lucky, though, that our spouse breast-fed the little ones. Still Mine would barely wake up enough to stick her nipple into the baby’s mouth. Me? I had awakened, gone to comfort the crying baby to no avail. Changed it (often getting peed on) and brought it back to mostly asleep Mom. Think what would have happened had your son been bottle-fed! ;-)

    • Dear Ken,

      Knowing you as I do in the real world, I can say that you were NOT one of the gents who set the bar low. That being said I worry that your graphic description of your wife’s breast feeding may cause some marital discord. Hopefully you have a guest room?

      Ever Faithfully,


  2. Mick,
    I really enjoyed this, as a mother of (yawn) six adorable young’uns. My oldest is 26, my youngest is nearly 7, and I am JUST BEGINNING to sleep the night through again, after all these years! I love your line “pretty much from the time he was a zygote.” Way to go, Papa, for being actively involved in your son’s up-bringing, nighttimes and all. You’ll never regret the strings that you are tying!

    • Amy, you’ve got yourself a volleyball team there! Wow! We’ve got friends with 3 kids who complain and I should just send ‘em to your blog to keep them quiet. That’s a Brady Bunch for sure! How do you do it?



  3. Mick, I slept great after our youngest of 5 finally slept through the night. Then, about 2 or 3 years ago, our 23 years son’s Dystonia worsened and we now get up a few times a night to help him roll over. Good nights of sleep are just so beautiful! :)

    • Well, Dayna HopeBuilder, now I feel really pathetic. FIVE + a 23 year old with Dystonia!? Wow! You are far more noble and less rested than I. My wife and I used to use our son as a reason we were late (well, I was late) getting places until some of our best friends with chaotic twins would always be early. That rained on our complain parade too.

      Before I became a parent, I think one of the scariest things about becoming a parent was fear of all of the sleep loss. A decade or two later, I still think most of us would still do it again. :-)

      Thanks for reading and here’s hoping it has made you drowsy!


        • If I can help you get more sleep by reading my writing, I guess that will have to be my small (cheerful) part in the scheme of things.

          Thanks for being such a fantastic parent! The world needs more HopeBuilders!



    • Oops! If you’re having trouble following things, I must have done something wrong. Do you not see the tiny “Next” at the top righthand side across from the date?

      I’m going to be working with someone to help make the layout easier to navigate soon, so your comments are helpful.

      Thanks for reading!


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