Coping With Crying

Late last night I sat at the computer with my 12 month old daughter, Annalee, asleep in my arms. It's part of our routine that I'll nurse her to sleep while puttering online, and then she sleeps peacefully while I type and wander the net.

Last night, Annalee didn't want the routine. Her fifth tooth was coming in, something from dinner had left her gassy, and she was just generally cranky. I tried to nurse her some more and lull her back to sleep. She got even angrier. I tried to sing. I played "I hope you dance" (her favorite song). I bounced. I whispered deals. Finally, I decided that my poor sweetie was just determined to be miserable and I did my best to "deal with" it.

I was sitting there feeling proud of myself for holding her through her howls and comforting her, not plunking her in a crib to cry alone or getting upset, content I was "dealing with" her screams, when all of a sudden it hit me: My job was not to deal with it, it was to make it better.

I got up out of the chair with her and we walked to the dark hall. As soon as she was upright and heading somewhere, I had her attention and the crying stopped. I could see her excitement. We stood outside the bathroom and in the dim light from the streetlamp outside, we watched ourselves in the mirror. I bounced her gently and she held out one finger to play with her reflection, grinning all the time. I swayed with her in the half-light for a few minutes before she motioned that she wanted down. I let her down and she toddled into her dark nursery.

I suppose I could have listened to experts about sleep habits, might have insisted that she be quiet in a dark room and try to sleep. I believe in listening to my mommy voice though, and it was loudly telling me that what we were doing was perfect.

I followed her into her room and turned on the light. We spent the next half an hour playing ball, doing criss-cross-applesauce and piggies, and fishing for the cat with a piece of string. I don't think I've ever heard my daughter giggle louder or longer than she did last night, long after we should have both been in bed. We crawled around on our hands and knees chasing each other and played peek-a-boo around corners. We hugged and squealed and tickled. I'm sure her tooth still hurt and her belly was still gassy, but by the time she conked out soon after she was happy enough not to mind.

Tonight, Annalee is back in my arms. She's been sleeping peacefully all night -- even long enough for my husband and I to have a little romance elsewhere.

We all have times where we have to take a break from crying babies. Last night I was reminded that sometimes crying babies need us to take a break with them too.

To the Article Index

All works on this site Alicia Bayer unless otherwise noted.
Don't take it - that would be rude.