Sometimes your child’s growing independence is a pain in the ass. They fuss and fight you in the cute but grating way babies do. Sometimes it makes you cringe and rage and breaks your heart at the same time. Sometimes you just want to collapse onto the couch and let the little person make his own lunch, change his own diaper, read his own book. Sometimes you just don’t have any patience left.

How does that feel? Like fresh bread gone soggy. Like a leaky umbrella. Like a cold shower after a short night. Like love tested.

Lately, Declan has become Impatient Zero. His irritation spreads. He wants food now and not in 30 seconds. He wants to be picked up, but doesn’t like where we’re going. He wants to be on the floor not the changing pad and acts as if the latter is a hot iron, cause for flailing, fussing rebellion.

The hardest part of being a parent (in my opinion) is not when his crying is the loudest. It’s when his fuse (and thus mine) is the shortest. Fighting him on little things is no big deal. But fighting him on every single little thing is draining.

How does that feel? Like throwing increasingly heavy rocks uphill. Like losing a double overtime playoff game. Like a patio light flickering, moments from going out for good. Like love leaking.

In other words, the moment/crisis itself isn’t usually hard to handle. But one moment after the next after the next can take a toll.

Numbers are hard and real and they never have feelings
But push too hard, even numbers got limits
Why did one straw break the camel’s back?
Here’s the secret:
The million other straws underneath it
It’s all mathematics

-Mos Def

I love that verse, but this isn’t a math problem.

It’s a matter of perspective. I may feel the weight of the past, but Declan doesn’t. He sees one straw at a time. The tears of his present can give way–inexplicably, seconds later–to laughter and wonder. Not a bad trait to emulate. If he’s not going to carry a grudge against me for accidentally smashing his finger in between high chair trays, why should I blame baby for being baby?

In other words, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

How does that feel? Liberating. For both of us.