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October 6, 2012

Family changes bring out vast emotions

Our middle son doesn’t like it when I reminisce about him and his siblings being little. 

He says my face gets really sad. I’ve tried to tell him that as much as I loved having babies, I wouldn’t trade this time for anything; I wouldn’t lose knowing him now. But he doesn’t believe me. He thinks that secretly I wish I could go back.

From the time this same son could walk, he hated it when I got upset. He was very tuned in to my feelings, and I am not proud of the fact that he seemed to take responsibility for them. When he sensed a blip on my emotional radar, he would press his tiny self against me or lay across me, as if his body could still my pain.

When our first son was brand new, I was home alone with him late one night when he wouldn’t stop crying. I tried in vain to soothe him, and finally I called my mother. Hysterical, I explained everything I had attempted. Silence. I asked, “Mom, are you there?” Reluctant, she answered, “Gee, I don’t know what’s wrong.” You can imagine the panic. I am sure she could discern my desperation (probably because I screamed, “I am desperate!”). She attempted to placate me with “Try some warm sugar water.” I begged for the “recipe” (I knew she was making it up), and she responded, “Um, half teaspoon of sugar to 4 ounces of water.” I tried it, and it worked. He stopped crying. 

So, for the next eight baby-raising years, warm sugar water was my fallback whenever I had an unexplainably squalling baby. I have come to understand her slow response, though. Each baby is so different; there are no sure fixes with creatures so inherently individual.

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