"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014"
I can become so frustrated with this little guy, and this week has been no exception. Some days my baby refuses to sleep for more than 30 minutes at nap time. This same little guy can also scream and cry and thrash around like no one’s business, when I try to get him to sleep. True sleep-training failed miserably for my first two children, and thankfully my third was a lovely little sleeper. After her, I was lulled into thinking that with my fourth, the business of baby sleep, and getting the baby to sleep, would be a walk in the park.
Sometimes I feel as though the days and nights will never end. That they will never get better. But of course ultimately I know they will. I have three other children who took essentially the same sleep path as this little guy. And we survived. We will survive.
But in my desperation; in those moments when I choose to walk away, or text my best friend to vent, or call my mom, or turn the monitors off to soften the sounds of crying, or pour myself a glass of wine…or better yet stick a straw into the bottle of wine…I also think of those moms and dads and caregivers who cannot cope. And those babies and their crying. Perhaps their diapers are full or their bellies empty. Maybe there is diaper rash or an allergy. Or perhaps they are terrible sleepers. Or terrible eaters. Or they need to be cuddled all the time.
Perhaps they are children of first time parents who do not know it will get better. Or perhaps they are children of seasoned parents who are overwhelmed by the needs of their older children. Or work, or staying at home, or life in general. Perhaps they were born to parents who did not want children at all. I think of those little babies, helpless and for whatever reason unable to settle. To stop crying. To be soothed. And my heart hurts for them. Because in those situations, with desperate babies and desperate parents, lies danger. I have been mired in my own parenting doldrums lately, exacerbated by a sense of helplessness for the little ones in my community, and communities all over the world, who are crying.Looking at the beautiful face of my baby, I wonder: Is it as simple as holding a diaper drive and providing diapers to local families who can otherwise not afford them for their babies? Babies who could be suffering from severe diaper rash, and thus cry. Is it as simple as setting up a network of local families, of parents who can text or call each other at any time, just to talk about how much parenting can suck at times? Is it as simple as donating instead of selling unwanted baby gear to families, so babies can swing, or bounce, or play? I don’t know. I wish I had the answer.
I feel compelled to try to help these babies, these parents. Ultimately I have to believe that every parent loves their child. Every parent tries to do their best, but in crisis parents can lose sight of what is important. For now I will dedicate myself to being brave enough to keep thinking of these babies and their parents. I will keep researching organizations to support. I will hold space in my heart, and hope that these parents remember to love their babies. The way that I love mine.
I am joining Jodi and her 52 Project at Practising Simplicity