Thursday, March 28, 2013

(Un)Happy Hour



Over the years of what I like to call “my life before baby”, I always looked forward to five o’clock; mainly because it’s the socially acceptable hour at which one can commence drinking.  Now that I have a child, I dread the approach of 5PM the way the kid from The Shining dreaded walking down that long and creepy hallway.  It turns out that once you have a kid, “Happy Hour” gets rebranded as “Arsenic Hour”.  Of course, no one tells you this when you’re pregnant.  It’s not until you mention to someone that your baby screams nonstop from 5-7PM every night that they say, “oh, of course he does!  All babies do that; haven’t you everheard of Arsenic Hour?”  I’ve since decided that the reason it’s called Arsenic Hour is because you would gladly poison yourself as an alternative to listening to your child scream incessantly for two hours.

The Muffin Man, who normally has a sweet, tranquil disposition, has a meltdown every single day as soon as 5PM rolls around.  Sure, he may spend most of the day laughing and cuddling and basically being the sweetest child on Earth, but just as soon as I’m ready to make myself the first cocktail of the night, the kid blows.  We’re talking ear-piercing screams, a beet-red face and crying spasms so intense I used to be worried he was having a seizure.  The first week or two of this I was beside myself. I tried feeding him: he rejected my boob, which brought up my latent feelings of rejection from my father and I ended up on the phone with my therapist.  I tried changing his diaper, for which I was rewarded with a face full of pee and poop so explosive it actually got on the curtain across the room.  I tried singing and dancing, both to no avail other than to confirm that I do, in fact, have no rhythm.  Finally, on the verge of throwing myself out the second floor window of his nursery, I handed the screaming mess off to my Husband and escaped into a hot bath. 

After several weeks of this I finally got so despondent that I called my Mother.  I love my Mother, but after reflecting on many of the appalling parenting choices she made while raising me, I think it’s telling just how desperate for help I was that I reached out to her.  I cried and told her that I was a terrible Mother because my kid wouldn’t stop crying and nothing I did would soothe him. She said, “Well of course he does. Everyone knows that babies cry at that hour.  Have a glass of wine and relax.  He’ll stop crying around seven.”  Sure enough, she was right.  Maybe I just needed to hear that I wasn’t the crappiest Mom after all, or maybe it was the large glass of wine, but that night the Muffin Man’s nightly meltdown became more manageable.  Once I finally stopped blaming myself and my numerous shortcomings as a Mother, I was able to be more effective at calming my kid down.  Yes, you can still set your watch by his nightly Jekyll and Hyde moment, but I’ve finally picked up a few tricks that usually keep the screaming o a minimum.  Oh, and I’ve also learned the value of always having a nice bottle of wine on hand.    

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