Jessica Martin-Weber isn’t a bad mom because she picks up her daughter when she cries. And she’s not a bad mom if holding her does little to dry her tears.
What Martin-Weber knows for certain, as the mother of seven children, is that when her baby cries, she’s going to be there for her, as The Stir reports.
I used to think that babies would never cry if their parents were responsive and paying attention to their baby’s cues before it came to crying. But now I know that sometimes, babies just cry. When they’re sick, if their tummy hurts, when they’re having a bad day, if they are scared, if they’re developing a new skill, and any number of reasons.
And somehow, when a child did cry, they were trying to control their parents:
For a brief moment in time, before I thought babies wouldn’t cry if their parents were good enough, I thought they would cry to manipulate and control their parents. That, unless taught differently, they would try to have the upper hand and dominate.
That if mommy and daddy did respond, it would cause the child to grow into a spoiled, manipulative adult:
Without schedules and limits and even ignoring a baby’s cries, babies would grow to be spoiled children and eventually spoiled manipulative adults.
Martin-Weber recalled how with her previous children, she was “warned” not to cave into her babies’ cries:
I was warned that if I picked my baby up every time she cried, I would be teaching her that she was in charge. There were cautions that if she wasn’t on a schedule or left to cry sometimes my baby would be undisciplined, demanding, manipulative, and unable to self soothe.
The mother of seven tried to mind the advice that sometimes babies just need to cry but she couldn’t. Why? She wrote:
Because … [it] felt wrong.
Martin-Weber explained her body physically ached when her baby’s crying went unsoothed. The crying caused “enormous stress and anxiety,” high blood pressure, and made it “impossible” for her to think of anything else but tending to her child.
As she wrote:
It caused my physical pain. It brought on anxiety. It made me desperate to get to her. I couldn’t let my baby cry.
The remedy was going towards her baby’s cries, not away from them:
So I responded. Sometimes it has meant I just comfort and hold them while they cry if I’m not able to soothe them, say with the breast or a diaper change. Even that feels better than not responding. The least I can do is be there with them when they are upset.
Martin-Weber asserted when a baby cries, it’s not to take hold of the parent, but rather because they’re truly in need:
Babies cry. Not to manipulate, not to punish, not to judge, not to be difficult, not to make your life miserable.
And sometimes the need is to communicate:
Babies cry because it is one of the only ways they have to communicate. And they’re brand new at the communicating thing. Babies cry because of their own stress and discomfort, not to cause stress and discomfort for others.
Martin-Weber has taken comfort knowing that holding her baby when she is distressed isn’t going to “ruin her;” that even if cradling her baby doesn’t soothe her, it does not mean mom is a failure as she once thought:
I don’t take it as a personal judgment against me as a mom if my baby cries anymore. Nor do I see it as my baby being broken or difficult.
Because a crying baby, and sometimes a crying mom, is okay:
It’s even ok for me to let her cry for a moment while I collect myself and take a deep breath when I’m feeling overwhelmed by her cries — that isn’t ignoring her or neglecting her, it is giving myself what I need to care for her. It’s ok that sometimes I can’t soothe my baby and all I can do is simply hold her while she cries. It’s even ok that sometimes I cry because of her cries.
Martin-Weber knows she’s not a bad mom for holding her crying baby, and whether or not she can dry her baby’s tears, she’s never letting go.