Today is the day. The battle lines have been drawn. The weapons sharpened and at the ready. And once the smoke clears, a clear victor shall emerge from the carnage.
For over five months now, I’ve been a prisoner in this war. Day after day, praying and hoping and scheming to win back my freedom. Only to be disappointed yet again as the sun disappears beyond the horizon.
Hungry. Sleep-deprived. Covered in filth. No one should have to live this way. Some might argue that I brought this on myself. But my fellow soldiers in this war, my brothers-and-sisters-in-arms, know that when we took on this mission (code name: Operation Reproduction), it was only with the best of intentions.
But no more. Not today. No. Today is the day. The day I end this standoff. The day I ignite a revolution. The day I mix my military metaphors and arbitrarily abuse alliteration.
The air is tense as I put my plan into motion. Feasting on his mid-morning meal, my captor has no idea what is coming. I let him dine in peace, for all too soon the screaming will start. Let him have these last few serene moments.
He falls asleep. With one last look at his vulnerable face, I put the plan (code name: Operation This Kid Will Finally Nap In His Stupid Crib So Help Me) into action.
Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I get up from the rocking chair. He begins to stir, letting out a small whine. I freeze. Everything hangs in the balance.
But luck is on my side. He quickly slumbers again.
I carry the tiny dictator in my arms with the gentle yet tense gait of a bomb squad member carrying an undetonated grenade. I carefully lower him into the cage. Against all odds, he continues the deep sleep of the blissfully ignorant. I straighten my body, hardly daring to breath. Things are going well.
Freedom is within my grasp. I’m so close I can taste it. Sweat drips down into my eyes as I creep on my tiptoes to the nursery door. Thoughts swirl around in my brain as I allow myself to imagine what I’ll do once I’m free. Eat? Pee? Nap? Finally tweeze my neglected caveman eyebrows?
All four at once?
But then, out of nowhere, BOOM! A shot rings out from the most unlikeliest of places. And I freeze as the dog’s bark hangs in the air, eyes wide, not breathing, not moving. Stuck in what seems like a never-ending moment where the possibility that the shot missed its target is still alive.
The baby starts crying.
Done in by friendly fire.
I stand there, defeated, waiting the obligatory minute or two to see if he will fall back asleep. But deep in my heart, I know he won’t. The chains have been slapped back on.
The cries grow louder.
I pick the enemy combatant up, soothing him. Meanwhile, violent images where I whack the dog repeatedly with a giant cartoon mallet plays out inside my brain. The dog stares me, almost like he knows what I’m imagining. I throw him my best “you’re dead to me” crazed-eye look.
He at least has the decency to hang his head and look guilty.
Long hours pass. Long hours in which the enemy is cranky and repeatedly spits out his semi-automatic binkie, aiming for that spot under the rocking chair that I can never quite reach. He refuses to go back to sleep now that he knows of my betrayal.
The punishment fits the crime, I suppose.
Later in the day, I make a half-hearted attempt to resurrect my escape plan. Feed him. Lull him to sleep. Lower him once again down into baby jail.
But my spirit is broken. It inevitably fails. As his head hits the crib mattress, his eyes fly open and I’ve barely dropped to the floor and army-crawled passed the changing table before the indignant screaming at being betrayed again start.
By the time dusk arrives, Stockholm Syndrome has set in. It’s my fault he won’t nap in his crib. I’m a horrible mom. There are moms who have their newborns trained to sleep in their cribs during the day before the babies are even fully emerged from the birthing canal. I should have read a parenting book written by someone other than Dave Barry.
But just when all appears to be lost, reinforcements arrive. Commander Daddy bursts onto the scene like the hero that he is and surveys the battlefield. The broken and mutilated toys lying on the ground. The vultures and flies circling a never eaten sandwich; a sandwich made back when hope was still alive.
The commander immediately cuts off my chains, taking the tiny tyrant in his bare arms.
I’m finally free.
Granted, it is only temporary. But it will have to do for now.
I go into the kitchen to pour myself a glass of wine. A tiny consolation after yet another day of defeat.
By the time I make it back to the main battlefield in the living room, I see the commander sitting in the rocking chair, arms empty.
“Where is he?!” I demand.
“Sleeping in the crib. He was exhausted. Went right down.”
I turn back around and grab a bigger wine glass.