12 July 2009

Crying, soothing, wanting to soothe

Right, our journey home and assorted random thoughts...

Morgan screamed. She had lost her paper for drawing, she needed a wee, she needed a drink, she needed another wee, she needed to draw in the map book (!), she needed something to eat (which she then dropped), she needed the toilet again. We stopped about every five minutes down the motorway, pulled in on the hard shoulder, frantic screaming toddler unsoothed by anything we could offer. She is intense, wonderful, fascinating, and sometimes utterly unmanageable.

In the end we reminded ourselves that we can do our best to make the circumstances right, but when we've done what we can it's her job to actually stop howling. We can't force her. And we certainly couldn't spend the night on the hard shoulder, where briefly (too briefly) we had respite. Martin was so stressed driving I was worried we wouldn't make it home at all.

So I come on to the ethics of such daily decisions. When is it right to override them and keep going, validate as far as you can but when all is said and done stop trying to fix the screams? I certainly know some parents who buy Continuum Concept philosophy 100%, that naturally a baby would never cry and therefore if they are crying you are doing something wrong. I know one or two who seem to have babies and toddlers who never cry in fact (heavens, Morgan WAS one apart from brief colicky spell - and then she began to walk and screech lol).

And when we are actually talking about a young baby, even there I fail this critera. Colic has been part of our newborn experience every time - with the other two I tried eliminating all sorts from my diet; dairy, wheat, cabbage, onion, garlic, non of it seemed to make any difference. When my babies cry and cry and I can't help them, is it because my helping isn't up to scratch, or because something is wrong that I actually *can't* fix?

There is food for thought here for me though...

About how I can build a climate in my own family of responding and trusting, but actually function when those times arise when I need to decide between the needs of different family members.

About how attachment parenting can become a heavy burden indeed if we tell mothers that babies parented the right way never cry. About striving to meet needs without blaming myself when some needs are unmet (or perhaps in the modern world un-meetable).

About *nurturing* my gentler instincts in moments when I am becoming frustrated because I can't prevent my children from experiencing negative emotions.

About what it is to live with intense little people who don't give up and fall asleep (which in spite of how it sounds I AM grateful for in many ways). About being helplessly present in someone else's distress and knowing that somehow that counts for something anyway.


  1. Hullo there :o)
    to me it just sounds as she was over tired after a nice time & wailed,nothing more nothing less. My jaw hit the floor when I read some folks think a babe/child shouldnt cry?? I am 38 & I still cry!Whats so bad about it?
    Of course there are needs a small has that can & should be easily mended by mama,hunger,cold,scared,just needng a cuddle :o) but as you say sometimes you do all that & they still want to wail,in no way,NO WAY at all does that make anyone a less or a bad parent.

    I confess to a complete horror of *terms* whether it be Attachment Parenting or the Contingency or whatever it was you mentioned. To me parent should be natural,it doesnt need a label nor a book/guide.

    In fact I would gaily toss such guide & books on parenting into the charity bag lol.

    As parents we need to find our own inner confidence & thats something thats differnet with every parent & with every child, & with every different member of the same family.My 2 might be twins but they have different needs, I guide them in different ways,different approaches work with each of them.

    Theres no cut & dried solution of if you do X,Y,Z & avoid P,Q,R you will be doing it right & have a happy content child. Every child is an individual & of course they throw up constant different situation for us & themselves to deal with lol!

    My advice to myself when I have wobbled over something is to have confidence dear girl I say to myself! so I say it to you to x You are a lovely loving thoughtful mama,your children could not ask for more x

    Dont over analyse something.In fact dont analyse much at all,being a mama is a natural flowing thing,not something to be catagorised & lumped into terms & behavioural types.

    Some days are good,some are carp, some hours are good,then for no reason the next minute its all carp. Thats simply the rich pattern of life. Theres nothing more to read into it.

    Smalls get cross & fed up just as we do, & being small that comes out in a holler sometimes & when it comes to journeys once you have tried all you can do,you need to just accept small is wailing & let them to it & concentrate on getting home safely. At the end of the journey or when they stop wailing then a big smile & a hug & oh its soo much nicer when you are happy dear one,is all thats needed.

    Hope you all have a good sunday x x
    GTM x x

  2. At the end of the day Jean Leidloff NEVER HAD kids. Which I think takes away the validy of what she says. That book was my early parenting years Bible. But I never felt 'good'. Oh I liked the feelings of breastfeeding and slinging etc but I mean the the carries such a HUGE amount of guilt!

    We don't live in the environment or culture described in that book. I think it ought to be viewed entirly as an anthropological study rather than parenting manual. It is a set up for failure trying to be AP as described in that particular book.

    You are a good mama.


  3. I struggle with this as well. Our one year old doesn't just give up after a cry, she just keeps crying :) Which I love that she has a distinct personality, but yeah, sometimes it would be nice if she would just quiet down and go to sleep in the car...I think reminding yourself to be a gentle parent and doing what you can to try to meet their needs is about all you can do.

    I've been reading your blog for awhile now and to me you are a great parent :) I love that you are always so honest about everything, you don't try to sugar coat things and say your life is always perfect and your kids are always perfect. Keep up the good work!!

  4. I think sometimes we forget that as parents our job isn't always to make everything better, "to fix it", sometimes we just need to be there and accept that sometimes our childrne don't want our comfort or to fix it for them, they want to scream, they want to vent their frustration and anger, no matter how inconvenient and frustrating for us. We would be best placed in those situations to find ways to keep ourselves calm... lol, not easy though.

    Earlier today I insisted Rye return a little toy motorbike back to his friend, he growled and screeched at me. I asked him if that was working for him.. and his reply, "Yes." lmao.

    Glad you made it home safe, after doing a few long trips with Rye I know, as a driver, how frustrating and annoying it is to have a screaming child in the car, particularly if there's not really a safe place to stop, or it's just not practical in terms of time.


  5. Thankyou, thankyou, THANKYOU! I've struggled with a very demanding baby who constantly wants something more - being held turns into being wandered around turns into rocking turns into foot stamping - until in desperation I tried pick up put down. Put down - she screams. Pick up - she's all smiles. Put down - she screams. I pick her up, reassure her, put her down and wait. After 5 mins, I repeat. Not AP, not quite cc, but I know that what she's trying to say is "I don't want to go to sleep, I want to be with you, but I'm tired so I'll scream and shout but won't go to sleep because there's too much going on and I want to join in". I'm teaching her that it is ok to sleep, that we'll still be here in the morning. Ultimately, parenting is a relationship, and relationships have to evolve. Sometimes 1 comes first, another time someone else has a greater need and the other has to wait. That's life, taking turns, sharing. It's not ignoring, invalidating. Probably strict AP-ers disagree, but my toddler needs me just as much as my baby - just in a different way. Most importantly, it works for us.


Penny for your thoughts? :)