Parenthood is a lifelong test of wills. OK, it’s more than that obviously. It’s fun. It’s an adventure. It’s rewarding. I know that. But on a day to day basis, it’s a test of wills. And it begins at a very young age.
Like all infants, Clint cries. Sometimes he howls. On rare occasions, he does so almost inconsolably — at least for thankfully finite periods of time.
Mostly, I can figure out what Clint wants when he cries. The primal needs are examined first: Positioning, the need for food, posterior hygiene. Beyond that, it becomes a guessing game. Following that, I have to determine whether it’s in my best interest — and his, of course — to knuckle under to his infantile tyranny.
I know two things. One, he’s too young to be manipulative. But I know the time will come when he begins to test his parents. It’ll happen after he and his parents have established habits. If our habit is to jump up and find a way to soothe the complaining infant, we’ll carry that habit into an age where he comes to realize that he can make things happen by pestiferous behavior.
But I also know that God, and His good buddy Darwin, have crafted high-volume infant vocals to inflict maximum discomfort on human ears.
When the child rips a deep-lunged bellow, his mother responds with instant panic. As the “experienced” partner, I consider it my role to immediately consider the option of denying. Whatever he wants — as long as it’s not a safety issue — is often best ignored, at least at the outset. This makes me appear to be distant, unconcerned and cold. I’m not. But I find a certain amount of chill to be an effective parenting tool, particularly as we develop habits.
However, it’s an ineffective marital tool, made even more so in circumstances wherein the infant and the mother tag-team the father.
Parenthood is a lifelong test of wills. Marriage is a lifelong compromise.