Listen To Your Mother

I talk to my mother almost every day. Sometimes it’s just to say hi. Sometimes it’s to vent. Sometimes it’s for advice on cooking, mothering, or (rarely) cleaning. Sometimes it’s because I’m desperate.

Like when I called her a couple of Friday nights ago- Dan was out with the guys and I was looking forward to putting Sweet Pea down, sitting in my quiet house with a glass of wine and an episode or two of Girls (do you know about this show? Lena Dunham is a genius and if you haven’t yet, go watch it. You can thank me later, if you have the misfortune of only just now hearing about this groundbreaking masterpiece for the first time).

Except that’s not what happened. When the last dish was in the dishwasher and my tired feet were finally up, Insane Crying commenced. Please note my Crying Scale whereby:

0 = Not crying at all
1= Eh-Eh/whining that precedes a full-on cry but is mild enough to allow you to delude yourself into believing genuine crying may not ensue
3= Annoying, intermittent I’m bored crying
5= Steady, loud, I have a poopy diaper. Come get me. crying
8= Very loud, unrelenting I’m teething I need Tylenol and boob, STAT crying
10= Extremely loud, agitated, unyielding, I just hit my head so loud you heard it go SMACK on the concrete, aka) INSANE Crying.

Why was I hearing Insane Crying at 8pm? One of the hallmarks of Insane Crying is that it occurs between the hours of 2:00 and 4:30 am. It is also commonly heard following a particularly scary/painful tumble. But at 8pm while lying in the crib? This was uncharacteristic. I waited to see if it would subside and listened as it gained momentum and intensified.

So I investigated. Holding her close, stroking her hair, and repeating “It’s ok, Mama’s here” did nothing to calm the fury. The softie/wanting to relax and watch Girls while my baby slept part of me wanted to nurse, return her to her crib and be done with it. The disciplined/wanting to get pregnant again but still haven’t had a period in over two years part of me reminded me we had already night weaned and back sliding into nursing at night was not part of the plan.

So I held her. I rocked her. I gave her baby Tylenol. I got in the crib with her. (Yes, yes, I did. Though I can’t take credit for that idea). The Insane Crying persisted.

When my inner softie finally grew a pair and told my inner drill sargent to go f*ck herself, I sat in the glider chair and offered Sweet Pea my breast, the one thing that always soothes her.  She quieted down in anticipation.

And then she bit down on my nipple with her sharp little teeth, hard. I shouted in pain and unlatched her. What followed was Insane Crying times twenty.

Desperate, I called my mom. With Sweet Pea on my hip, screaming into my left ear, I cradled the phone in my right ear. I heard my mom pick up and I explained the situation, nipple bite and all, and waited for her words of wisdom, which would surely make everything right.

Except I couldn’t hear a damn wise word she was saying over the crying.
“Wait mom, I can’t hear you.”
“You need to…”
“Wait, what?”
“What she needs is….”
“Mom? Mom? Hang on, let me just…”
I knew the answer to my exasperation was on the other end of the line, if only I could hear a single bit of it over Sweat Pea’s screaming.

Finally, I heard my mom say it was ok to just let Sweet Pea hang out with me in the living room, to let her sit on my lap, play with her, read her a story, do anything to distract her from what was probably teething pain, and not worry about messing up her routine or her sleep schedule, and that it would be fine.

And it was.

We might have even watched an episode of Girls together. Did you know that the detrimental effects of Adult Content and the American Pediatrics Association’s recommendation of no screen time for children under two are null and void in the face of Insane Crying? It’s true.

Sometimes, even when you’re grown up, you still need to listen to your mother. Because she’s done things. Which means she knows things.

Do you have plans this Mother’s Day? See if there is a Listen To Your Mother Show in your city. Each show is locally cast and produced, and features local writers reading their own words about the beauty, the beast, and the barely rested that is motherhood. There are 24 cities hosting a show this year.

The Boulder show, which Joelle and I are co-producing is next Sunday, May 12th at 7pm at the Dairy Center. We can’t wait to see all our hard work come together in this powerful collection of stories, on topics including adoption, addiction, abuse, and even an amusement park ride.

Cast members include a published author and a sex therapist. I will be up there telling a story, too (one I’ve never shared on my blog). Please come be part of the magic of this community event. To learn more go our website. To purchase tickets ($12 in advance/ $15 day of show) click here.

2 thoughts on “Listen To Your Mother

  1. Stephanie Sprenger says:

    I loved so many things about this. It was a wonderful reminder of how grateful I am that I too can call my mom in the midst of a meltdown, and she will be there for me. Your Insane Crying scenario is so familiar to me, and I know how conflicted and frustrated I felt, polarized by my desire to nurture and the desire to have some me-time. And the path of least resistance, whatever that may have been in the moment. Wait, that’s three poles. See you tomorrow!!!

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