Baby Girl won't stop crying. The faucet is dripping, plopping into a bowl in the sink, already filled with water, probably filled to soak so that the food won't harden overnight. I'm too tired to empty the dishwasher tonight, and besides, I ought to be as quiet as possible so that if Baby Girl does decide to fall asleep, I won't disturb her. The muted tapping of this laptop keyboard is thankfully much quieter than the basic Dell keyboard for my desktop.
Charlotte, the cat, has made herself comfortable on the bottom rack of Baby Girl's elevated, reclined chair. Her seat, I call it. Every once in a while, Charlotte shifts, and I can see the seat move from the top, which was mysterious at first, until I realized where the cat was. And then, when the cat, unlike Baby Girl, tumbles into a deep sleep, she snores just a little bit. The bottom rack is meant for Baby Girl's toys and blankets, and they're there, but no space is ever too full for a cat to fit.
There's not much worse in this world than the feeling of helplessness, when even holding Baby Girl close to me, rocking, rocking, and singing in hushed tones, makes no difference. I can't possibly know what's wrong, and for a split second, it makes me feel like a failure. I know that she's not hungry, and it's late, so she must be tired. She must at least be half as tired as I am, and I could curl up and sleep to morning from this moment, but instead, I am just waiting for Baby Girl to fall asleep first. It's a race, and I am trying to let her win, but she is fighting.
I hate sitting here and listening to her cry, but what does it matter when holding her doesn't quiet her? It's the feeling of helplessness. Usually just picking her up is enough, but now... Whenever there's a moment not filled with her cries, a shard of hope glistens with the possibility that perhaps this time she has unwillingly given up the fight, that perhaps the darkness of her room has overwhelmed her, and the frustration of crying has drained her energy. And as a moment stretches out, longer and longer, the feeling of helplessness lessens a little. Maybe I did help. Maybe she does feel safe, after all. Maybe nothing's really wrong.
She is asleep. She won.
And so did I.