The car ride was lasting an eternity with Baby Brother screaming at the top of his lusty lungs. We were trapped with his sound waves ceaselessly battering our eardrums. I feared our tender membranes could only hold up so long before rupturing.
Little Legs groaned and kicked at the back of Daddy Longlegs’ seat, he narrated the scene, “Crying.”
“We know, buddy. Baby Brother is not very happy, is he?”
“Crying, crying, crying.”
His words were few, but direct. His irritated tone filled in the gaps that his limited vocabulary left unaddressed.
Baby Brother demanded an immediate release from the restrictive car seat. He continued to scream and cry, but the tears stopped streaming down his cheeks as the seemingly bottomless well dried up.
With another twenty minutes to go, I was unsure if we would survive the trip.
Daddy Longlegs gripped the steering wheel tighter, focused only on the car and road in front of him and incapable of conversation.
“It’s like we are being waterboarded.”
What to say to the truth? Parenthood is painful and there are aspects that are tortuous. There is a constant worry about their health, well-being, development, socialization, education and future. Aside from the emotional and mental distress, there is also a physical component of pain from getting bitten or stepping on a metal tractor or a lost Lego. And sometimes my heart feels like it will break into a million pieces from loving them so hard.
However, it is also beautiful and funny and rewarding in ways that transcend words.
Instead of jumping out of the moving vehicle, as I briefly considered, I turned around in my seat to check on the sweet babe in his time of need. Thankfully, the crying stopped and he eased into an exhausted sleep. A calm settled in the car while my eardrums still buzzed. I let out a sigh of relief, suddenly realizing that I had been holding my breath.
Next to the sleeping baby, Little Legs held his hands out in front of him.
His index finger was extended, “One.”
His middle finger refused to join the index without the rest of his fingers extending, so he moved onto his other hand.
He held out both index fingers.
All his fingers were up now. It was the first time he made it past two on his own and never once on his own fingers. I couldn’t help but to laugh in the lightness that comes in the aftermath of a storm.
Little Legs wasn’t listening; he was recounting his fingers. He wasn’t looking for feedback, praise or direction. He was figuring out things on his own, one finger at a time.
And I was so grateful for the entire ride.