There's been a lot of crying in our house this week. There were happy moments too...but definitely a lot of crying.
I hate it when my daughter cries. It makes me physically uncomfortable. It makes me want to crawl out of my skin. It pains me to see tears running down her cheeks.
Fortunately, weeks like this last one are generally few and far between. Typically, she's a very happy child. I think that makes it doubly hard for me to cope when she's unhappy.
Sometimes I feel like I can't deal with it anymore. Sometimes I can't see any logical reason for the tears. I feel helpless and frustrated. When I'm tired on top of it all I just want to scream.
Every now and then I have to take a breather. I have to take 30 seconds in another room to take some deep breaths and regroup before returning to my daughter's side to continue to cuddle and comfort and find the source of the tears. If my husband is home we can take turns.
It's hard. It's hard to sit there and be calm and comforting when her cries are ripping me apart. But I can't ever bring myself to leave. A minute in the hallway--yes, I can do that and I need to sometimes--but I can't leave her to cry it out. Neither can my husband. It took me a long time to accept that taking a breather didn't make me a failure at attachment parenting. It really doesn't.
I'm glad we've listened to our hearts. I know that sounds cheesy, but I'm glad we've never forced ourselves to let her cry. I'm glad we recognized that it made us uncomfortable and acted accordingly. People have suggested we leave her to cry but we could never (and never wanted to) do it.
I'm glad for a number of reasons.
First, there is always a reason for the tears. I may not be able to see that reason at the time but it's always there--a tooth we can't see just below the gum, growing pains in her legs at night, missing her daddy, exhaustion, a growling tummy even after she just ate dinner and nursed...Sometimes I need to take a step back or get some sleep before we can figure out what was bothering her.
But it's always something.
Second, it's taught her compassion. She's concerned whenever she sees someone who is sad. If she hears a baby crying on the other side of the restaurant, she wants to know why it's crying and offer comfort. She recognizes and doesn't ignore emotions. If her friends are sad she gives them hugs and dries their eyes. If I look upset she asks me what is wrong.
Third, I don't want to punish her for my lack of patience. If I'm tired, I'm impatient. Everything is harder to deal with when I'm tired. I don't want to let her cry, alone with no comfort, just because I'm tired. While that may seem easier at the moment, it's not easier in the long run. Even if I need to take frequent breaks in the hallway, she knows I'm there. She knows I'm coming back. She knows that eventually I'll figure out what she needs and it will get better. Or at the very least she'll cry herself to sleep in loving arms.
She always knows she's loved.
No matter how difficult it is at the time, this gives me comfort. She always knows she's loved.
There is always a reason for the tears and I'm always glad we never left her alone.
Originally posted at S.A.H.M. i AM.