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Sunday, May 22, 2011

On Fixing What You Can

Zach has started this new thing where he wakes up in the middle of the night. We can't tell what is going on, because he usually falls back to sleep after a short snuggle. I mentioned it to a coworker, who is a first-time mom, and her response was to ask how we handle it.

Honestly, I never thought about it.

It just comes naturally. What do I do when my baby cries? I go and get him. Simple. I think that was her way of asking if I make him cry it out. No. Never. And I never really thought of it until now because Zach has never been a challenge in this respect.

Don't get me wrong: I was the same when Evan was a baby. It just makes sense. Babies cry because they need something, even if that "something" is just to see your face and know you are still there. And this is really easy with Zachary because he has never been a crier. And I'm not sure why this is happening now. It could be that he is about to get new teeth, or that he is eating more and more foods and is getting a bellyache. It could be that he has decided recently that he is going to boycott naps and thus his sleep/wake schedule is all jacked up. Who knows? I just know that he cries and we respond. When Evan was a baby, this was particularly hard. I can still hear the shrill, colicky screams that went on for about eight hours per day for what seemed like a parade of months. John worked nights then, and so it was just me. There was no escape. And there were moments where I knew I loved him, I knew I would never hurt him, but as terrible as it sounds, I could understand how in a split-second a loving parent could lose their cool and cross that line into abuse territory. But still, the response to his cries never dulled. My desire to fix the unknown problem never faded.

This all has got me thinking about the different schools of thought on this topic. A lot of people will tell you that a baby needs to learn to self-soothe, or that you will be spoiling a baby by responding to their cries. Yeah, whaatevs. As if sweet little Zach is secretly planning how he is going to manipulate my entire life and control me. See how ridiculous that sounds? He cries because he doesn't have the verbal abilities to say, "Yo, Mom, I'm cold/hungry/ lonely/ in pain/ bored...." Seriously.

So we go to him. We will always go to him. Just like the sound of Evan crying causes the knee-jerk reaction of me going to see what is wrong. Still. And Evan is almost a decade old.

Because whatever it is, it is my job as his mother to go and fix it. One day, there will be things I cannot fix. But for now, I will relish the ones I can fix. And I don't believe for a second that I am feeding into Zach's plot for total world domination if I do.

Of course this is all coming at a very trying time for our family. Something is not quite right with Evan. I'm still trying to get him some treatment, but if it is what I think it is, I want the best therapists, the best doctors, that money can buy. And those people come with waiting lists. This is one of those times where I cannot fix it. I'm trying, Evan. I'm trying like hell. (When I find out more, expect some venting and heart-pouring action here, folks. It's bad and John is completely in denial.)

So I respond. When my babies are hurt or sad or scared. When they're lonley or angry or have just had enough.

When something is not right, I will be there. For both boys. For as long as I am living.

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