Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When The Parent Becomes The Child

I hadn't heard Mackenzie cry this badly since she was three weeks old.
Except back then she'd eventually tire herself out and fall asleep.  
If that didn't work there was always some sort of trick -- the baby swing, white noise, swaddling -- that would put her to bed for at least a few hours.
Doug and I would run through the baby playbook until something worked. 
The other night was a different story. 
I was visiting with my parents and we'd had a jam-packed week. 
Mackenzie -- now five months old -- was over-stimulated, over-tired, and over-turned (she's started rolling from side to side in the crib and keeps landing face down, which totally freaks her out sometimes).
My parents and I took turns rocking her, cradling her, and singing to her.
I must have nursed her to bed three times in 20 minutes.
Nothing worked for long.

As soon as her head hit the crib mattress she was screaming like a banshee.
Things took a bad turn when my last ounce of sanity ran dry, and I sat at the top of the stairs in my old childhood home crying like a toddler.
My husband was working, my baby was inconsolable, and I was having a breakdown. 
I had completely lost it, and mothers aren't supposed to do that.
Just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore, my father approached the top of the steps, put his hand on my shoulder and told me it was going to be okay. 
He put his arm around me, and I just about collapsed on his chest.  I sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed some more, until my nose was running and my eyes were red and raw. 

My "woe is me" moment didn't last too much longer, but as far as I was concerned, it never should've happened in the first place. 
Moms are supposed to be strong. They're supposed to take one for the team.  They're supposed to be made out of steel. 
I crumbled. 
And it took my own father to fix me.
It's not that I thought I wouldn't need my mom and dad anymore now that I'm a mother myself. 
But you grow up in an instant when you become a parent, whether you're ready or not. 
You have no choice.  Your child relies on you for everything, and shutting down and curling up into the fetal position when times are tough is not an option. 
But sometimes it's just too much to handle and you lose your grip.  
We're all human. And no matter how old you are you can't always be the strongest person in the room... you'll always be somebody's child... and sometimes you, too, need your parent. 

After my little episode I thought about learning to ride a bike, and how I cried the first time I fell. 

My father was there to brush off my knees, pat me on the back, and tell me it was going to be okay.
He didn't force me to get back on and try again right away.  Tomorrow was a new day and we'd give it another shot then. 
I eventually learned how to ride a bike.  
And I was never again afraid to fall.  
I knew that if I did, I'd pick myself back up, brush off my knees, and everything would be okay. 

No comments:

Post a Comment