I Have a Hard Time Liking My Son (at night)

For those of you who are visiting Dazed Dad from Simple Mom, welcome! It’s great to have you here. I hope you’ll take some time to look around and read about our journey. I am a father of 3, 1 living. Our twin boys, Micah and Judah, were born and passed away on October 25, 2010. You can read our story here and here. On December 30, 2011, we gave birth to Caleb Elijah (pictured below): our third son, a beautiful baby boy and a true gift.

Not sure what this says about me that the first post I write here since his birth announcement is a statement about how I hard a hard time liking my son (at night), but…there it is.

Now, if I’m being fair, I don’t really like myself in the middle of the night, and I think Sarah probably finds me pretty annoying then too.

But this parenting stuff is hard. People keep saying that it gets better, it gets better, etc. But I’m with Artie, when he said in last week’s GLEE episode, that he doesn’t want it to get better later; he wants it to be better now. Right now.

And maybe we don’t get that. Maybe this is the rite of passage that we just have to go through as new parents. But for now, it can be pretty hard.

And I know that it will get worse at times too…I know from all those folks who are already parents who have told me about the teething, about the truly explosive BMs and the crying that goes on and on…and the babies who are truly colicky babies…I know it can be worse, and may be worse for us in the future too.

But again…it’s the present moment that I’m talking aout. It’s the nights like this past week when Caleb was apparently going through a growth spurt, and he was crying, and crying, and screaming, and fussy, and un-calm-able (at least by me it seemed at times). It’s those times when Sarah and I are playing tag-team (a bit unwillingly on my part, at times) to rock, burp, pat, bounce and try to calm this little baby who is so damn cute, like angelic-y cute, during the day – and then seems to turn into something else in the wee hours of the morning.

When I finally get up with him, walk around the house, and see that light is beginning to hit the hills around Ashland…then it’s like something magically changes, and it’s a lot easier to like him again. But man oh man…that little dude during the nights when he’s fussy, having digestive problems (I probably gave him my IBS), crying and then just starts screaming…I have a hard time looking at his little face and thinking to myself, “Hey little buddy…I really like you.”

Does this make me a bad parent? (Sorry Sarah – you’re not allowed to answer that question)


  1. says

    Does this make me a bad parent? Nope. It just makes you a parent. Yes, Caleb is a baby and doesn’t have a clue what he is doing, but you have every right to not like those things he does. In fact, I would be a little worried about Caleb’s future if you carte blanche approved of all he did. Could you imagine a kid that grows up with a parent liking every single thing he or she did? That reeks of entitlement to me.

    Sorry, Adam. This is rough.

  2. says

    Parents who have lost children in the past I think feel especially guilty when they can’t answer a rousing “YES, I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT MY LIVING BABY!!”, because we know how much worse it can be. But nobody loves being a parent all the time. Sleep woes are especially difficult. I always try to counter my guilty feelings about my living child’s sleep woes with “You know what they do to torture people? Deprive them of sleep”. Now who would love that?

  3. Deanna says

    Yep, it is tough. The crying will stop. It seems like a long time now as you live it but someday soon you will realize it wasn’t so long or so bad. You will miss these days and you will be glad they are over. Some things about parenting gets better and some things get worst. Breathe and enjoy the ride (as best you can) because as you know, there is nothing like the love a parent has for their child.

  4. CarolCP says

    Could he have reflux? You’re almost at the 6 week mark….things do seem to generally get better about then. Parenting is not easy….no question about that!

  5. says

    We are going through the SAME thing and here we are at 4 (almost 5) months. After losing three children ourselves we have a VERY hard time admitting to people how we are struggling with our son at night. Being sleep deprived and not being able to help calm your boy down is exhausting. So, no, you are NOT a bad father. It’s rough and like you said, this parenting stuff is very very hard to do, especially at 3am.

  6. says

    Not a bad parent, and not even a bad human being. Just a human being. Andy and I talk often about how hard it was for him to also like D in those first few months when he was colicky and never wanted to sleep at night. But he said that while a lot of it was definitely exhaustion, some of it was frustration and helplessness – not knowing what was wrong exactly or even knowing what to do to fix it.

    You’re doing great. Caleb is lucky to have you, DD.

  7. says

    Not a bad parent, just an honest one. Let me tell you the truth though. It doesn’ t get better. People just tell you that to make you feel better. I have three teenagers and trust me I would rather be getting up with them in the middle of the night teething, then waiting up all night for them to come home. I rather worry about them falling down and bumping their head than wrecking the car.
    This doesn’t make you feel any better now and I don’t want to minimize what you are going through. It is super tough and the pay off at that age is very little since they can’t do much more than fill their diapers and spit up . I can tell you on a positive note that pay off does get better as time goes by. Nothing better than to see that smile on their face when you walk through the door, or make the winning touchdown, or get an A on their math test…..(the list is endless)
    Your little one is just breaking you in now so you are ready to handle all he has to give you later on. You’re not a bad parent, you are just a parent going through the same struggles everyone else does. It doesn’t matter how hard it was to arrive at the point of parenthood, the struggles are still the same. Good luck, and treat yourself to a nap whenever you can.

    • Adam says

      Ha! Don’t know whether this helped or just gave me more things to worry about! But it is a helpful perspective to hear.

  8. Crissi says

    Nope, not a bad parent, just an exhausted one. Our 7th joined our family back on Dec 13 and he’s definitely been a learning curve. We’ve dealt with colic before, but the natural remedies that worked with the others don’t seem to phase this new little guy. We recently discovered this stuff called Gripe Water (never heard of or used it before). Now we don’t know how we ever lived with out it. It seems to be this miracle stuff, working for fussiness, gas, teething issues (oh joy he’s started that phase MUCH earlier than we would have liked! lol) and for our personal favorite, colic! The other thing that’s helped tremendously is, The Happiest Baby on the Block book and CD. While the heartbeat sounds may make me feel batty, it’s only a few minutes and he’s calm, cool, collected and (our personal favorite) CRASHED! Wish I would have found this stuff with the previous 6! Just goes to show ya that every child is different and no matter how many you have, one should always be open to trying something and learning something new!

    • Adam says

      Love the Gripe Water and the Happiest Baby on the Block was especially helpful for us in the beginning. When he was losing it – I’d hold him on his side/stomach and sometimes that would magically calm him!

      We use a white noise app on an iPod that works awesome.

  9. says

    You sound like me when I was a new mom, but maybe even nicer! I did not enjoy new parenthood. It wasn’t until we had to sleep train him at six months and we were again able to sleep eight hours straight that I finally started to like the evenings again. It’s so funny you mention how it’s specifically at night that you dislike it because that was me too! I would be so glad to see the first rays of sun because that meant might was over.

    I really really did not like the first few months and no I don’t think neither you nor I are bad parents because of it. It’s seriously hard stuff! My little guy had a fiery temperament. Only through time and experience did I learn my mistakes and can now handle parenthood much better.

  10. Lucy says

    It makes you an honest parent. I LOVED reading this. We have three children, 6, 3, and 2 months and have never liked the newborn stage. It’s just really rough going for us, although we know people (who we don’t think are lying) who tell us they loved this stage. It’s so rare for people to admit that they find this so hard. I think I shocked a friend who doesn’t have children yet when I told her how much I hate this stage. I find myself guiltily remembering how easy it was when we just had two. It really does get easier but even though we knew this from our own experience it didn’t make it easier in those first few weeks. At two months we are getting used to it, again, and finding we can cope. When you get some smiles you finally feel like it’s worth it. Until then you don’t really know the baby, so it’s hard to LIKE them, however much you LOVE them. Hang in there…

  11. says

    Not a bad parent, of course. Being sleep deprived does something to our brains that makes us growly and grumpy and we look around for the source of our unhappiness and THERE IT IS…the baby. Strangely, the thing that “got better” wasn’t the night waking, but me. I got better at it. By my third child, I had already spent so many hours of my life awake in the middle of the night that it didn’t bother me anymore. If you want it to get better now, my advice would be to sleep more, any time you can, so that you can wake easier when he does. I really think, after parenting three kids for 14 years, that the absolute hardest part was learning how to wake up in the middle of the night without feeling angry.

  12. says

    There were definitely nights (and days too, for that matter) when liking my daughter wasn’t exactly happening. It is hard. It does get better. And what you’re feeling is normal.

  13. Andy says

    Not a bad parent at all. I have a 4 1/2 week old and a 18 month old and there are times when I don’t like either one of them in the middle of the night, in fact there are times during the day when I’d happily sell them to a passing circus!! The only thing that I found even remotely helpful was just surrendering and trying to find a few decent places on the internet to hang out, some good podcasts to listen to and a couple of good books to read. Then just go with the flow. Oh and to sleep whenever and wherever you can. As a SAHM I do all of the night wakings but by the same token I also catch a nap when the babies go down in the middle of the day.

  14. Hiboumama says

    The nights are hard. Don’tbe hard on yourself and please know that there are legions of us awake also!! Is your little one nursing? If so, adjusting his mama’s diet could make a difference- for us it was caffeine related- as in if I had even a square of chocolate or the tiny amount of caffeine in a decaf latte we would have a little guy that just transformed as the witching hour drew near!! Other suggestions that worked for us are using an ergo ( with insert) or other sling and also turning the shower on and rocking your little one in the bathroom. I finally started sleeping with our son and that worked wonderfully for us. Best of luck!

  15. says

    Try the technique from the book, Happiest Baby On the Block. You don’t even have to buy the book; just take the shortcut and watch the youtube videos of how to do the technique. I endured miserable nights with my 13YO daughter when she was a baby. With my new baby, almost one now, we did the Happiest Baby technique and it made things much better.

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