Benjamin woke up last night…at 3:30 a.m. and wouldn’t go back down. Wide awake with a little cough, I decide to take him downstairs to mommy’s bed. Kris was staying over. It’s been five weeks now and this would be his first experience with a fussy baby in the dead of night. Benjamin was lying on my belly, breathing deeply and coughing. “What’s up deep breather?” Kris says.
The two have spent some time together over the past few weeks and Benjamin already feels comfortable around him. Last weekend on our Saturday afternoon Kris stayed until 4:00 in the afternoon, spending the entire day (minus nap time) with Benjamin. The two are like little peas in a pod. They sit together (yes, with Kris, Benjamin actually sits still) coloring, playing, chattering. Now in the middle of the night it’s no different.
We’re all up now. “I should take him upstairs and put in a movie or something, maybe he’ll fall back asleep.” I’m clutching Benjamin, tired and exhausted. Kris says, “I’ll come up too, there’s no way he’ll fall back asleep now that he’s seen me here.” Then he takes Benjamin in his arms and walks up the stairs to the nursery. They sit on the big cozy chair and I pop a movie in.
With Benjamin on his lap, Kris wraps his arms around his little belly and gets comfortable. Then he starts reciting words from the Baby Einstein video. “Flower,” says Kris. “Flower,” pipes Benjamin. Unbelievable. Every other man I’ve had over during a fussy night has just passed back out, ignoring the situation entirely. I knew they clearly weren’t ready for baby land and then eventually broke it off. But this, this is amazing. This is how it should be.
When you’re dating as a single mother, you are more drained than usual. It takes time to be with someone. The time you spend with them is time you are taking away from your child or yourself. The man you’re with should want to help you, should want to be with you even in the tough moments. These, after all, are the moments when we need someone the most. They should make your life easier, not harder.
The two keep watching the movie. I curl up on the floor. I look up at Benjamin in Kris’ lap and have to catch my breath. Is this really happening? Is he really here? Am I dreaming? This is the first time, not even exaggerating here, that someone has helped me with Benjamin in the middle of the night. He’s 20 months old. Even when I was married I would wake up with Benjamin and handle the crying fits on my own. My ex-husband would sleep straight through them.
The next morning Kris wakes up. He’s not upset, he’s not tired or complaining about last night. In fact, he’s in an amazing mood. So am I. And as for little Benjamin, he’s ecstatic. Jumping around, dancing with Kris. Laughing. There’s a lot of laughter, coming from all three of us.
“It’s time to say ‘bye bye’ to Kris baby.” Benjamin starts to pout. “I know, honey, mommy is sad about it to, but we have to say good bye.”
“No,” Kris says, “everyone is sad about it.” Pinch. Pinch. Am I dreaming? Nope. He’s still there. And so am I. This time, I won’t let my fears push him away.