Jordan Harrell knows what it’s like to have a “difficult” baby. In fact, she had three.
During those years of long nights (and long days), there was LOTS of crying. There were a few nights I wasn’t sure I could take it anymore. I wanted it to stop and told the baby as much. They never listened.
So the crying would go from a solo to a duet, me and the baby swaying in dramatic harmony, alternating heaves as we wondered who would be able to reign (sic) it in first.
Under the circumstances, it’s no wonder that Harrell occasionally wondered if the common denominator to her three crying babies was her. But before she could slide too far down the rabbit hole of self-blame, she remembered a story from her own mother.
Difficult babies might run in families, because Harrell’s brother was a “hard” baby, too. And his colicky, crying, clingy ways also drove Harrell’s mom to desperation. One day, he started up during church, so Harrell’s mom had to make the long, awkward walk to the back of the church to its nursery.
As Harrell’s mom tried to calm her firstborn, she noticed she wasn’t alone in the church nursery:
Sitting next to her in the other rocking chair was another mom, a baby laying against her chest about the same age as Justin. He sat nuzzled peacefully against her, not a peep out of him, even as Justin screamed at the top of his lungs.
Harrell’s mom was only partly joking when she asked the other mother, “What’s your secret? How is he so easygoing?” But the mom’s response floored her:
“Well, he’s actually not mine. I’m his foster mom, and it’s not so much that he’s easygoing. He just spent the first few months of his life crying non-stop with no response. Nobody ever came. The crying didn’t work for him. So he stopped. And now, he never cries.”
The foster mom told the overwhelmed mother of a crying baby that all the wearying sobbing was rooted in trust:
“Your son’s crying is a good thing. It means he trusts you, trusts that you’ll come.”
As Harrell told Dearly, she wanted other moms to know that they’re not alone, and that — if you have a difficult child — it’s not a reflection on you:
“I think every mom struggles with this nagging feeling that somehow everyone else has it figured out. Mom-guilt tells us the hard stuff is our fault, and we need to get it together like all the other moms. But the truth is, we aren’t the only ones struggling or thinking those dark thoughts in the middle of the night. It was hard for me, and it’s hard for so many other moms. I think there’s so much hope found in knowing you aren’t alone.”
In fact, those late nights and tough days are just a confirmation that your child knows you’re there for them. As Harrell concluded in her post:
“Be thankful for the crying. Go scoop them up and hold them close. They’re not crying because you’re a bad mom. They’re crying because you’re such a good one.”