Let’s start with a picture.

How could someone so joyful during the day make the sad, desperate sounds he makes at night?

There are whimpers and wails, screams and staccato bursts of sadness and anger. Sometimes there are tears, but mostly just red cheeks and red-rimmed eyes. Not every night. But it happens more often than not. A wake-up or two where Colleen and I look at one another and wonder out loud how we should respond.

How much of it is just baby being baby, and how much is an expression of genuine need? And how can we tell the difference? Day time is one thing. We can see his face. At night, we are quite simply…in the dark.

The teething pain is usually a dead giveaway. We’ll go in to find his hands stuffed in his mouth, drool on his chin, and loud loud loud cries. The kind that say simply, “Help.” The kind that break your heart if you’re human, and break it twice if you’re their parent.

Hunger is harder to discern. At this point, he’s almost always interested in nursing. But when he has proved able in the past to go six or seven hours without eating, it’s hard to take him seriously when the crying starts two hours after the last meal.

Is he overtired? Who knows? Some great nap days turn into terrible nights of sleep and vice versa. But sometimes good naps lead to good sleep. It’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma stuffed in a Rubix cube handcuffed to a security guard locked in a Vegas casino vault.

Which I guess is just parenthood. Not absolute certainty. Not full control. Just our best guess. And a lot of second guesses. And not much time to contemplate them all because there’s a new dilemma/decision/discovery right around the corner. And besides, if we spend too much time obsessing over the confusing parts, we miss the simple joys right in front of us.

So let’s end it with a picture.

There’s a lot I don’t understand about this boy. But I know that face. I know my love for him, and his for me. I know in my heart he is cared for and loved. Even during the dark nights when his parents have no clue what to do next.