The Best of Intentions

I was frustrated.

No.. beyond frustrated.

He had been screaming for hours. Not for what seemed like hours, but for literal hours.

I had rocked him. I had nursed him and burped him. I had walked miles in our living room with him. Dad and I had traded off on shattering our ear drums with his obvious and piercing disdain.

Nothing worked.

I was so exhausted. He was only a few days old, at best. Sleep was a stranger to me, lost somewhere around my eighth month of pregnancy when I became so large as to chase away any moments of comfort or rest. I was on auto-pilot, heavy-lidded, with a screaming newborn attached to my shoulder, my hip, my breast, whichever might offer just a moment of comfort and silence.

If there was something that could, I wasn’t capable of finding it.

What kind of a mother was I? Incapable of consoling my own child, both of us helpless as he screamed hour after hour. His face was a deep red, scrunched up like an angry old man, his toothless, gummy mouth stretched wide as he advertised his unhappiness to the world, screams echoing back at me from the surrounding walls.

He was a good advertiser.

The knock on the door was brief. Our neighbor. Our landlord.

She had heard his cries; had known a break was needed.

When I opened the door and saw her there, there were no words. There was only the unspoken understanding of mothers as we looked into one another‘s eyes.

I placed my screaming baby in her outstretched arms. She hushed him softly and turned to walk back through her own door, closing ours behind her.

My heart broke.

Hearing my son, days old, screaming less than 20 feet away from me through the thin walls just reinforced my feelings of inadequacy as his mother.

I broke.

I dropped into the recliner where I had been holding him minutes before and sobbed. I couldn’t handle hearing him so miserable without me holding him, yet I was unable to handle him so miserable in my arms. I was lost.

Why couldn’t I fix it? I’m his mother.

The tears poured down my face as I listened to him crying, then heard the cries growing quieter… and then silence.

It should have been me that was able to comfort him. Instead, he was across the hall, happily sleeping in the arms of someone else: a virtual stranger. My guilt was almost palpable.

I wanted so desperately to be able to fix what was wrong with him, to soothe him… and I couldn’t.

No matter how good my intentions; no matter how much I loved him.

He was mine; a piece of me. He should be comforted with me and by me, not by someone whose voice he had never known, whose heartbeat he had not listened to for 9 months inside the womb.

I sighed as I wiped my tears, slowly piecing myself back together.

And I realized that there are always going to be things that I can’t fix.

No matter how good my intentions and no matter how much I love him…

I will stumble and fall and fail miserably many times and at many things as he grows, but I will always have the best of intentions.
____________________

This post was written in response to a prompt by The Red Dress Club.

Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. You want to tell them about yourself.

Instead of reciting a laundry list of what you do or where you’re from, please give us a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.

This is an exercise in showing, not telling.
Word limit is 600.

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About Caitlin's Concepts

Mom to 4 boys and drowning in a sea of testosterone!
This entry was posted in My Babies, RemembeRED, The Red Dress Club, Write on Edge and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to The Best of Intentions

  1. Shell says:

    So honest! I think sometimes it’s harder for us to comfort them when they get like that b/c we are so upset, too. And they know it.

    It feels so overwhelming- not knowing when we will ever get a break, much as we love our babies.

    Someone else can take a turn, knowing that it’s just a short time.

  2. Pamela says:

    It’s so hard. You want him to stop but you can’t bear to think someone else is going to stop him and not you. This hits home. Deep. You’ve probably come a long way since this day. Long enough to write about it. Congrats for making it this far!

  3. Kris says:

    oooooh. I could feel my body tense up reading this. I don’t miss those crying bouts! But they pass and before you know it they are nine years old. Time whizzes by. Enjoy every minute. TRDC

  4. How could you have doubts about this piece? I’m certain 99% of the mothers out there have had this exact moment.

    The only thing that worked when my children were like that: putting them in baby bjorn carrier and walking outside – heaven help you if the weather wasn’t favorable.

    Excellent writing per usual.

    • I used the sling constantly. That was the only thing that worked for me. My baby napped on me for the first three months of her life— it was the only way to get some quiet.

      I loved your post. I felt it completely. The beginning even made my skin crawl a bit. Like the best of horror movies. I mean that in a good way.

  5. MamaRobinJ says:

    The fact that you were able to hand him to her and accept that help in such a hard moment shows a lot of strength. I’ve never been very good at that, no matter how good my intentions 🙂

  6. tracy says:

    Okay, I AM SOBBING!!!!! SOBBING. Oh the tears of a mother. The fact that you let someone else in says so much. As a mother, I have a very hard time giving up control. This took my breath away. I think I love you.

  7. OK I cried along with you. I have been there with my children. Best intentions perfectly describes it.
    The landlord (a mother herself) knew all that and her best intentions were in place to allow you a moment of repose.

    I loved this take on the prompt. The showing of falling apart and piecing yourself back together.

  8. Jack says:

    My daughter was colicky as a baby. There was a period of time where she was inconsolable with anyone but her mother. It used to make me crazy that she wouldn’t let daddy help.

  9. Elaine says:

    I remember this feeling a few times. My neighbor rescued me once too, as did my MIL. It’s so hard, especially when it’s your first (it was my first baby). You described the emotions so well.

  10. Your ability to hand over your new son, to know somewhere in you that you needed a break, that he needed a break, that something had to give, is so indicative of a strength and selflessness that I am sure shore up your ‘good intentions’ and your obviously great mothering skills.

  11. Elena @NaynaDub says:

    So very honest. I loved your closing “I will stumble and fall and fail miserably many times and at many things as he grows, but I will always have the best of intentions.” – that has to be a mother’s motto. We try but we don’t always succeed. Great post!

  12. Ash says:

    I felt every ounce of your pain through your words. I’m so sorry.

    It is maddening. It hasn’t been that long for me.

  13. I love how honest you are. And I think that instead of showing a mothers weakness it shows her strength when she knows to ask for help.

  14. Jackie says:

    I know your pain all to well. My son did the same thing and it was so difficult! We managed, got through it, and now all is well! As I’m sure it is with you.

    You’re right though, as moms & parents we can’t always fix everything and it may be hard on us, but that’s why others are there to help.

  15. Victoria KP says:

    Oh, I have SO been there! Fabulous writing–it brought me right back to those first few days when I had NO IDEA what I was doing with my first son.

    And your neighbor–how awesome was she?

  16. I remember that.
    I think I got so stressed I was feeding my daughter’s stress.
    That’s why, maybe they quiet for someone else.
    Someone not yet stressed.

  17. We have all been there! I am firmly convinced that pregnancy and infancy are crash courses in the life lessons you will learn over and over again throughout the rest of your child’s life.

    This post speaks straight to the heart!

  18. Miri says:

    Oh you are making me cry, woman. Capturing motherhood and all our emotions and guilt and the desire to be so much more than is humanly possible.

  19. Tonya says:

    This was hard hitting and heart breaking. I have SO been there! Thank you for sharing this moment and thank goodness for kind neighbors that know you need a break even if you don’t.

    Favorite lines:
    “I sighed as I wiped my tears, slowly piecing myself back together.
    And I realized that there are always going to be things that I can’t fix.
    No matter how good my intentions and no matter how much I love him…”

    Beautiful!

  20. Frelle says:

    tears.

    i know this feeling. I have had colicky babies, and other times as they have grown older, I hve had to allow others to comfort them and help them, too. Handing them over and entrusting another when I feel like I should have the strength, ideas, willpower to be what they need is hard. But you always have the best of intentions, youre right.

    Thank you for your honesty.

  21. Oh.
    I understand this more than you know.
    My middle child, now in the throes of the trying/terrible/terrific twos, had extreme colic. I nursed her, shushed her, walked the floors, tried reflux medicine, fed her gripe water, prayed, cried, and screamed myself. And a trigger of my PPD/PPA? Not being able to fix those cries.
    That guilt still resides.

  22. Wonderful piece. It is so relatable. Any Mama can relate, but when you are the Mama in the moment, it’s gut wrenching. So glad I came by! :>

  23. Jessica says:

    Such a brave honest post. That feeling of not being able to know and to do exactly what our babies need is so hard to handle. You illustrated every moment so well. I was there, wish I could have told you that you were not the only one.

  24. My heart broke for you as I read this. I wanted to reach out and take your baby just before your landlord/neighbor did. It’s so hard that we can’t be everything for our kids. I know that I want to be the ultimate, the end all be all for our kids too. And I can’t be. You learned it a lot earlier than I did. Lovely piece.

  25. Mandyland says:

    You poor thing! I had tears the whole time I was reading this. I wanted to walk into your home, hold the baby and send you to take a nice long shower.

    I’m so glad you had a wonderful neighbor/landlord who was able to be there for you.

    Every mother has had that realization that they can no longer be the be all, end all for their baby. And it sucks.

  26. Oh, so hard! We luckily only had a short bout of colic for a couple of days. I honestly don’t know how people do it for longer than that. And you’re right – there’s nothing worse than not being able to make it better – except for someone else being able to make it better.

  27. Two of my three kids had colic so i know exactly how you felt. Exactly. It was the single most awful thing I experienced as a mother, when my kids were infants, and I felt so guilty for bringing someone so miserable into the world.

    I feel for you. Your post brought those memories back.

  28. Yuliya says:

    How very brave of you to share this. I haven’t been there but I offer my virtual hug for you.

  29. logyexpress says:

    I’m too cynical…I thought your landlord was going to be mad about the noise! Much better outcome! Such an honest and moving post.

  30. Carrie says:

    this echoed deep inside me. I remember those days. I don’t think I dealt with quite as bad a bout of crying as you seem to but my first daughter was a screamer and sometimes it seemed nothing would soothe her.

    What I wouldn’t have given for someone to pass her over to. But in her case, she would scream even more…so maybe I wasn’t so bad after all 🙂

    We all need that break. But in the end, he came back to YOU.

    Visiting from RDC

  31. varunner says:

    Gah! Flashbacks! What a terrible place to be. You definitely captured the emotions perfectly.

  32. Amy says:

    I totally understand this feeling. What a wonderful neighbor to come and help out, even though you weren’t able to see that at the time. I would welcome it now 🙂

    Lovely writing.

  33. Your last paragraph sits with me.
    Its echoing in my head.
    It is the remInder I need.
    This post is heartbbreaking and honest and I love it.

  34. I didn’t have a colicky baby, but I do have a mood swinging prepubescent daughter. I can relate. Sometimes I wish I had someone to hand her off to, just to give myself a break. I love the way you showed your true self through this. The positive attitude you have will get you far in life.

  35. Oh girlfriend. It is clear from the comments that you struck a chord with the mother in all of us. That, THAT is a sign of a talented writer. You be it, girl. You wrote beautifully.

    And yes, oh, the crying, our own crying, held back from our children and yet flow so freely when they can’t see us. How many times I’ve been there.

  36. Ack. What a difficult position. It’s always so hard when you’re new at it AND sleep deprived at the same time. It makes it that much harder. Thank goodness you had support.

  37. CDG says:

    I’m pretty sure everyone ahead of me has already said what I would say.

    We’ve all been there, and we’re all doing okay.

    This was a strong piece, one that resonates.

  38. SO true! that ache is one of the hardest intros to motherhood. or rather, parenthood, because fathers can also experience it. In my case, I felt like a double failure because I was both a mom and a pediatrician. Isn’t that supposed to help me fix absolutely everything?! Ha. It’s humbling, but you are so right that we just can’t fix everything for our children. That’s not even what a good parent necessarily is.

    Oh, and the person who was able to soothe my screaming baby? My husband. His shoulders have always been the magic shoulders for both our kids. That really sucked because I started wondering why he had it figured out and I didn’t. Ugh. I’m more mature about it now though… now that we’re past that colic stage. =)

  39. Lisa says:

    Very nicely written. Sometimes it is hard for us to accept it but a break from a good friend is sometimes all we need.

  40. Kristy says:

    Oh, yeah. I’ve so been there. But when it is you, in that moment, you feel so alone.

    When my son was 5 days old, my husband came home to find out that our son had been screaming and crying for 5 HOURS STRAIGHT. He shooed me out the door so I could just take a walk and get outside. It was pitiful. I walked down our street, sobbing! A neighbor saw me, came and hugged me, and said, “Oh, are we having a little post partum?” I’ll never forget it. I was mortified. Now, I see she was just trying to make me feel better but at the time I felt judged. I was a mess!

    • Oh my gosh, I HATED it when people would call me out on PPD.. that’s about as bad as asking a woman whose being cranky if she has PMS. You just don’t!

      It’s sweet that the guys want to give us that break, but it always made me feel somehow less.. like I should be able to handle it all the way other people seem to, ya know? Thanks for the comment! =)

  41. I’ve been there and its so hard. What a very honest post that most of us can relate to….I always had a hard time accepting help but we all need it at some point and it does make us better mothers 🙂

  42. Oh, that is so hard. I remember those moments, as much as would like to forget. They sense our distress and the screams get louder. It’s such a helpless feeling, until it passes. And then you know that you are a great mother…you are great because you took a break when you needed it so that you could regroup and refocus once again. Beautiful post.

  43. Such beautiful heartfelt writing.
    Thank you to Just Another Mom of 2 for featuring you and to Sellabitmum for forwarding you …. happy to have found you!

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