Crying Out At Night

by Ginger on August 14, 2013

in Mom Thoughts, The Kid

Last night, after staying up to finish watching an interesting documentary about Richard Pryor, I was just climbing into bed in my darkened bedroom when I heard wails from the other room. Jackson had been crying in his sleep off and on all night, but this was different–louder, more intense, with that pitch underneath it that, if you’re a parent, you know differentiates this cry from other kinds of cries. Sometimes if Jackson cries at night, I’ll let him go for a little bit to see if it’s just a brief bad dream or if it’s something more, but this was one of those cries that basically meant “I NEED YOU RIGHT NOW.”

I haven’t been sleeping well recently–too much random nonsense swirling through my head that I can’t seem to quiet–so there was a piece of me that was a little frustrated as I walked through the dark hallway to his room. I was actually tired! I wasn’t thinking a million things! How do kids KNOW that exact moment to need you?

But he did, and so I went, because there is that invisible (are we sure? Sometimes it feels like it’s perfectly tangible and visible from the outside..) string that goes from my heart directly to wherever he is, and while it is always there, when he cries that string goes taut and pulls at me like I’m a fish on a line. Lately he has been fake crying a lot when he has tantrums, or when we tell him no, or when he is frustrated he can’t do something, or when he wants something, and what he doesn’t really understand is that we know the difference between those cries and the real ones, because the fake ones make us smile to ourselves while we continue to tell him no while the real ones put our hearts directly in his hands. When he is really crying, I will do anything in my power to try and make it better, because I’m his mommy and that’s my job and my purpose and necessary to the survival of MY heart.

When I got to his room, he was wailing, curled up in a ball, rolling around. He looked at me and his wails got louder and I gathered him up in my arms, and one of the things that I think makes you know you’re a parent is that you try to be calm and reassuring and take care of these little people in their time of need while your own heart breaks on the inside.  He was crying, and he couldn’t stop, and man. This parent thing isn’t for wimps.

It ended up being a perfect storm of issues–growing pains (he kept clawing at his legs) and a nightmare and I think the combination of real physical pain with a bad dream made it really hard for him to let go of the scary bad dream once he was awake. I got him to take some ibuprofen for the growing pains, and then I just held him while he cried himself out. Once he was calm enough, I got him to talk to me about the scary dream, which calmed him down more, until he finally wanted to get back in bed. He wanted me to lay with him for a few minutes, and I did, rubbing his back, watching his eyes slowly go from wide-eyed and afraid to relaxed and droopy with sleep. I gave him his stuffed elephant to hug on, and gave him a big kiss as he closed his eyes and fell back asleep.

It blows my mind sometimes that I have this little boy now. His body has leaned out, and with the exception of his cheeks, all the baby-pudge is gone and he is all little boy angles and lines. When I pulled him into my lap last night, I was struck by how different it is to gather his body now versus his body a year ago, two, three. He says things like, “Don’t worry about it” and “Sheesh” and I swear he’s three going on thirteen sometimes. But then he’s calling out for me in the middle of the night and I remember that whether he’s three or thirteen or thirty, he’ll always be my baby, and I’ll always want to make it better for him.

Lisa August 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Now I’m tearing up, sitting at my desk. Even though I think this stage is hilarious and fun, sometimes I miss the chubby baby stage. This reminded me that even though she doesn’t fit on my lap anymore, she’s still my baby. It really is like letting part of your heart walk around outside of your body, isn’t it?

Maggie May August 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Yes! I still hold all my kids sometimes as they cry in the middle of the night- even my 19 year old son. This is motherhood, the role of the spiritual warrior. Beautiful momma!

bloggoneit August 17, 2013 at 10:22 am

I remember what it was like to notice that my babies were looking more like kids, especially when the dimpled hands were replaced by hands that looked more like my own.

There are so many stages to childhood but also to parenthood. Embrace it all because it’s over far too soon — cliche’ but I’ve learned from experience that it really is.

–Cathie, mom to 2 girls and 1 young woman

Cynthia August 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Aww. What a great post, that really hit home for me. My daughter is 4 going on 14, and just last night she came to my room crying. She climbed up on my bed and cried a pretty intense cry. And it’s true what you say, as a Mother you can definitely differentiate between all the various cries. When she calmed down a bit, I asked her why she was crying and she said she had a bad dream that I was singing a song about not loving her anymore. I felt so bad for her, and I was even more mad that I didn’t hear her cry when she first woke up. Being a Mommy is tough in so many different ways.

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