When I can remedy my son’s woes, whether it’s a dirty diaper or an empty stomach, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment – more so than I ever felt acing a test or winning a game (this coming from a Type A and über-competitive person). Being someone he can rely on to make life better is so satisfying, and I love that we get to navigate his new surroundings and experiences together. What I do for him may not change the world, but I know it means the world to him.
So it should come as no surprise that when I can’t calm Rowan, I’ve never felt more defeated or like a failure. It breaks my heart when he’s crying inconsolably, because I should be able to console him! After going through all the options that I can think of for what could be wrong, and none of the solutions quell his cries, my anxiety goes through the roof. It’s like racing against a ticking bomb, and I’ve run out of time.
I try to take a beat and remind myself that in those moments, he’s just as unhappy as I am (if not more so). But then I unrealistically remind him that I’m trying to help and doing what I can to make him feel better. I talk to him as though he could understand. Our conversation goes a little something like this:
Me: Rowan, I love you very much, and I know this is a trying time for you. You’re still really new to the world, and it must be overwhelming to experience all these things at once. I want to help you, but I don’t know how. Help me help you!
Rowan: (Wails inconsolably and turns more and more red.)
Me: It’s okay! Or at least it will be. I’m going to figure out what’s wrong and make it better; I promise. We’ll get through this together.
In those moments, I wish more than anything that we spoke the same language, because I want to uphold my promise and get through to the other side. I know we will and that it’s just a matter of when. But it doesn’t feel like it when such rounds bring both of us to tears.
As challenging as crying jags can be, all of it is worthwhile when I’m on the receiving end of a smile – the crown jewel of parenthood! Seeing my baby happy and smiley reminds me that I can’t be doing too bad of a job, and at the end of the day, Rowan and I are in this together.