First Draft Father: Walk, or Else

One of the most unexpected and inconvenient outcomes of our return from vacation was that Ethan stopped napping. Full stop. No thank you sir or madam.

All throughout vacation we’d been making progress on the nap front with me standing vigil over his wild, face slapping hands. If I could keep the hands down, he’d usually settle in for a 30, 60, or, glory glory, 90 minute nap.

Ah, but something about the landscape or the air of Ohio clued him in that the routine that worked so well in Philly and Vermont couldn’t cut it. We tried the crib, the swing, rocking, swaying, and even laying next to him on the bed.

Nothing. Just…

Wah! Wah! Wah!

After a day or two of this, we thought that perhaps he’d gotten used to the motion of the car during our overnight trip. Our only reasonable option appeared to be the stroller. I bundled our sobbing child up, strapped him, and took off.

He fell asleep within two blocks. The nap was only interrupted when I had to return home after an hour and a half to use the bathroom. I had no idea he would sleep that long in the stroller. He had always fought it in the past. Now? It was all he wanted.

In the days that followed I spent anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours just walking Ethan. For the longer trips, I planned to stop by a public restroom with enough space to fit a stroller in. The things kids make you think about…

Even when it rained a few days ago, I made Ethan as waterproof as possible, put on my rain jacket, hoisted my umbrella, and took off on the bike path. It was awkward and I surely look odd when I tried to round corners with one hand on the stroller, but he was NAPPING.

I’m usually not one to kill time. Granted, I’m actually a bit of a workaholic when it comes to my writing. However, when the rain really picked up that day, I did something completely new to me:

I stood under a tiny bike shelter and pushed the stroller back and forth, back and forth for at least an hour. I could only check my email on my phone so many times. Just back and forth with the stroller—that was all I could do.

We’re adapting to a new normal around here every week or so. My biggest change is to wake up really early so I can work a bit before Ethan wakes up. That ensures I can take him for his nap walk without missing every deadline.

I’m also learning to be “idle” better. These walks are a gift where I can clear my racing mind, pray, and even listen music. I used to NEVER takes walks just to listen to music. A sweetly sleeping baby changed that.

I’d always meant to take walks with Ethan, especially at this age. There was something about the circumstances that made me feel like I was driven to it, like a refugee fleeing the “conflict.” My thinking was, “Well if he’ll only nap in the stroller, I guess I’ll take him for a walk…”

Taking walks should have been plan A. How slow I am to do what is good for me and, it pains me to write this, for others.

I’m grateful that kids back us up into corners, thrash our plans to pieces, and force us to rethink our lives and priorities. That may be the best thing could have ever happened to us.

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