Friday, February 11, 2011

Why it feels so good to comfort a crying baby

Gunnar just woke up from his afternoon nap with a scream. I rushed into his room and there were real tears pooling in his tired red eyes.  My heart hurt. Seeing your baby so distressed is heartbreaking. But as soon as he saw me his crying stopped and once I had him in my arms his head went instantly on my shoulder.  He let out an enormous gasp of air as if to say "Thank Goodness" in relief, mommy to the rescue she's taken away my sadness. And in the sound of that sigh I am filled with warm fuzzies and everything seems and feels right.

But why does it feel so good to comfort a sad baby? Maybe it's because I feel relieved that he is no longer in distress, or maybe it's because it just feels good to have a baby in my arms. Or maybe it's because it reminds me of the comfort I received from my own mother. I can't tell you how many times I've thought, as an adult woman, "I just want my mom" in times of unexplained sadness or when I'm feeling sick.  My mom always new exactly how to comfort me in those moments of fear or frustration. I remember the sound of her sweet gentle voice coming in to bring me medicine at night when I was really sick and how she'd mash up the pills in a yummy combination of yogurt and applesauce to make sure I would take it. Really nothing compares to seeing your mother's face or resting your head on her shoulder.

I just read this beautiful article in Real Simple Magazine, written by my aunt Pam's friend Paula McLain. (You can read the article here: The Mother I never had). It's about trying to be a mother after not having a mother to model herself after.  To be honest, I can't imagine how difficult that must be. Imagining life without my mother is like imagining life without air.  But in considering the thought of this I know how blessed I've been to have so many "mothers" to comfort me. My sister, for one.  In moments of distress when my mother wasn't around Erika was always there to lend her ear or shoulder. Or my dad with his silly faces that always cheered me up. Or my Aunt Pam who always had such great taste in popular music and taught me to emote through the experience of listening. Or my grandmother who brought me chicken soup when I was sick at college. Or my friend and college roomie Siba who has the best bosom you could ever ask for when you just needed to have a good cry.  Or my sweet husband who always asks "what can I get you dear?" regardless if I'm sad or sick he just does it "because."

So maybe the warm fuzzies of comforting a crying baby have nothing to do with my memories of being loved...or maybe it just reminds me that showing compassion for anyone is a wonderful feeling and something I should strive to do more of everyday and not just to my crying child.

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