Editor’s note: When we began publishing in 2007, Jeremy Schneider was one of the first columnists to give us access to his work, allowing us to run “A Father’s Voice,” which he had been writing since 2005. Due to his own busy schedule and his commitment to preserving time for his family, Jeremy stopped writing the column in 2008. We continued publishing it, running the ones we had missed due to our late start. Over the past three years, “A Father’s Voice” has been one of our most popular columns, and we have all appreciated Jeremy’s willingness to give us an insightful look at the deeply emotional experience of becoming a dad. The column below was his last, written in May of 2008.
The tricky part is the hallway. I carefully try to place my foot on our wood floor hallway in the tiny spots that don’t creak loud enough for our neighbors to call the police. I gently place my hand on the door knob and open the door, without letting go because if I do it will slam into the wall. I look into the room and bask in the sweetness of my 5-year old twins sleeping silently, peacefully, infusing my heart and soul with love, affection and utter goodness.
This is my little indulgence.
To me, looking in on my sleeping children is like treating myself to dark chocolate in the afternoon of a very tough day at the office. It has become a special moment for me even though it probably lasts less than 90 seconds. But going to bed often reminds of what tomorrow brings, another day away from my children, a day of stress and pressure, and seeing them before I go to sleep is a lovely reminder as to why I am here and what is truly important to me.
The ironic thing for me about my little indulgence is that I have only started doing it in the past year or so. I remember hearing stories about how parents would sneak into their baby’s room and watch them sleep and couldn’t understand how they could do it. For what felt like forever, our children were awfully light sleepers and if we tried to get near their room they would wake up. To complicate things even more, for about three years, our children slept on a completely different floor from us and it was not in the least practical to go upstairs to their room to check on them before bed. We relied entirely on a monitor to let us know whether they were sleeping or not. With the constant buzz of the monitor, I always believed some of the romance of listening to our children sleeping was lost.
But last year we took our bi-annual trip to Ecuador (my wife was born there) and ended up sleeping in the same room with our children. We would put them to bed and leave the room, spending time with our family down there before going to sleep ourselves. We were so worried about whether our children would be able to sleep with us in the same room – especially if we went to sleep at a different time from them. But every time we entered the room, I found myself marveling at how they looked sleeping, so peaceful, so delicate, precious, adorable, every single good feeling I have for them reflected back to me. It was delicious and I was awed by how much I enjoyed it, by how it helped right my orientation, my perspective on the world and my family. In essence, seeing my children sleeping was like an anchor, bringing me back to the place I want to be, to who I want to be; their daddy.
Around the same time, we moved and instead of sleeping on different floors, we were now sleeping in rooms right across the hall from each other. Now before I go to sleep at night, it is easy for me to take a little peek into their room, to see how they are sleeping, to renew what is good in my life without the stress of the day wearing on me, to see only the good in my children, in my life.
That is my little indulgence.
Image credit: Andrew Stawarz
Jeremy Schneider is a fatherhood expert, syndicated columnist, and therapist specializing in parenting, relationships, and helping people overcome depression. Learn more about Jeremy at jgs.net.
3 thoughts on “[A FATHER’S VOICE] My Little Indulgence”
Reading this article, I really felt your words. I have a son. He’s two and a little devil. Bags of energy, inqusitive, fearless. It’s only when he is alseep that I can truly marvel at the beautiful creature I helped create.
It’s the only time he’s really peaceful!
How precious that was to read these beautiful words from a father. I, personally have lost many of moment of shut-eye watching my own sleeping children, grandchildren, and the the children I have cared for, even into their teens. Your blog reminded me of that story “I Love You Forever”.
Teenager and adult children also look precious sleeping, but my favorite is when your nursing baby is in-between you and your partner in bed and you wake up to catch them actually watching you sleep!
I guess children enjoy watching the innocence of slumber just as much as we do!