Monday, January 11, 2010

Location, location, location

That's the mantra for real estate: "Location, location, location." Exactly the same house in different places will bring wildly varying interest levels and prices. Nothing else matters as much as where you are. Today, I discovered how that mantra applies to mothering.

Let me backtrack for a moment to explain one of the huge disparities between my husband and me when it comes to parenting: he's the toughie and I'm the marshmallow. At least, that's the case in terms of our tolerance for hearing Ryan cry. Herb will hear an unhappy yell, glance at the video monitor, and think, "He just finished a bottle, I just changed his diaper, he's just crabby because he wants to play instead of going to sleep. He's fine, he'll cry himself to sleep in 10 minutes." When I hear it, I think, "Did he just spit up? Is a clothing tag poking him? Is he still hungry? Even if it's nothing, he'll be happier if I go snuggle him. He just needs his Mummy." And I rush right up to the nursery and scoop him up.

At a certain level, I know he's fine, and I know it won't hurt him to cry for a few minutes for no particular reason. I even know that at some point it will be good for him to learn to comfort himself. But at only ten weeks old, I just can't stand hearing him wail when I know that my simply picking him up will comfort him and calm him down.

So what does this have to do with location, you ask? Excellent question! And here's the answer: For all that it breaks my heart and upsets me to hear Ryan crying when I'm not there, it hardly fazes me at all when he wails in my arms. I suppose it's because when I'm right there, I can plainly see that he's fine and that he's just crying because he's overtired, or overstimulated, or just crabby on general principles (his nose he gets from his father; the crabby he gets from his mother). And also because I'm actively doing something to fix whatever's bothering him. The attempted fix may consist of singing, bouncing, walking, or simply snuggling with him, but I'm doing SOMETHING other than just ignoring his distress. It doesn't even bother me when what I'm doing has absolutely no effect, but it soothes my need to DO.

And it's all simply because of where I am. Because whenever I'm with my sweet baby boy, everything in the world is pretty much OK.

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