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.
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 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.
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.