Why did I leave my baby to cry?
So I could take a dump.
Shall I tell you something that is NOT helpful? It’s when you ask someone how to do something, only to be told a million ways how NOT to do it.
Q- How do I cross the road?
A- Definitely DO NOT perform a handstand and try to cross it upside down.
All I am able to ascertain from that Q and A is (a) I have still not learnt my green cross code and (b) you have an incredibly misguided opinion of my gymnastic ability.
By the same token I am bloody sick of seeing people posting studies, posts, general judgements on what you should NOT be doing with your baby without providing realistic, helpful alternatives.
Them: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BABY TO CRY, YOU WILL IRREPARABLY DAMAGE THEM.
Me: Oh crikey, sorry! I was attending to my 2 year old who has punched his 5 year old sister in the face. She has deemed it necessary to impose her own justice upon the situation and is now dragging him to the naughty step by the top of his jeans, I’m just on my way to the baby, hold on!
Them: YOUR BABY IS IRREPARABLY DAMAGED, WELL DONE WENCH.
Me: Wow, really? Are you permanently stationed next to your baby then?
Them: I DON’T HAVE A BABY BUT I KNOW WHAT I’VE READ.
Me: Can I just ask what I’m supposed to do instead? Because I know I complain about my kids but I quite like them, I’d like to keep them. So when one of them is in imminent danger e.g. climbing on the kitchen counters or engaging in general childlike behaviour, and then the baby starts crying, I kind of prioritise the mobile ones, not the ones who are fed, changed and in a safe place like a cot.
Them: HOLD YOUR BABY
Me: And when I have no hands free?
Me: And when I’m holding another child?
Me: Put my baby on my head?
Them: OR YOUR LEG
Me: Hold my baby using my legs?
Them: DO YOU WANT TO DAMAGE YOUR BABY?
Me: Well, not really, but I don’t have the best balance so I’m not sure putting them on my head is the best option…
Look, I’m being facetious with this dialogue, I can’t help it – it’s actually one of my more appealing traits (soz fam). But I do actually feel rather passionately about it and the reason is because I know what it’s like to have a baby who cries. A lot. I also know what it’s like to be a new mum and, in a desperate quest to make your baby happy, stumble across SHOUTY unhelpful sites that tell you what you shouldn’t be doing. DON’T do this or DON’T do that. There is no sisterhood in being instructed how you are not a perfect parent.
I let my first baby cry.
And it wasn’t because I didn’t love her or I believed it was particularly beneficial to do so. It was because if I hadn’t then I wouldn’t have taken a dump in a year. Or washed my hair. Or left the house. Or been able to make her a bottle. Because she cried whether she was held or not. All the time. And quite frankly had I not let her have a cry, in a safe place, whilst fed and changed, then I was scared that my sadness about not being able to make my baby happy would have turned into anger towards her. And that would have been the truly damaging thing. I hear your studies and I understand your findings but my baby and I are not a scientific study, we are humans. And above all, we need our babies to be safe. Babies who have mums who have to drive to work after a night of no sleep are not safe. I know what it is like to have been up all night with a baby and then drive a toddler to pre school and it doesn’t feel anywhere near safe.
If you are reading this and have no idea where I am coming from then maybe you haven’t experienced the full force of a crier. It’s a little like that close friend that you love but always cries after a drink. You still love them, but, wow, it gets annoying after a while. Some babies cry more than others and as their mothers we do what is best for them, our families and ourselves. And if you are so anti leaving a baby to cry, then whatever you do, don’t leave your baby to cry. Because that’s what you believe is best for your baby. But the telling people what not to do has got to stop. Unless you are telling people not to cross the road whilst performing a headstand. Applaud their dexterity and then for god’s sake stop them.
*I fully recognise the irony of me telling people not to tell people what not to do. Don’t do that either.