First things first, I love my mom and I think she was a great parent. When we were young she stayed home with us and took in other children to make ends meet. All of our meals were home cooked and our clothes were hand-made, a model mom and I strive to be like her in so many ways. But there was one way I always promised myself I would not parent like my mom, I would not ignore my child crying. When my brother was little, he sat in his high chair while my mom rummaged through the fridge to make yet another meal for her family. I have no idea where I was for this story. Suddenly he started crying, screaming his little head off, and she ignored him, wanting to finish her task. When she finally turned around she discovered that he had bounced his chair right over to the stove and stuck his fingers into the hot element. He still has the scars. To be fair, my brother screamed a lot and was a little hellion by all accounts but that story has always stuck with me as the one thing I would not allow myself to do as a parent. "Who could ever ignore their baby crying?" I asked myself. How judgemental we can be before we have children.
Now, I've been lucky enough to have a daughter that doesn't cry very much. Usually she's very laid back and something has to seriously be wrong for her to get going. But recently she's been going through a clingy phase. It seems that I can't put her down for even a minute without a cry to get up again. So the other day as I was scrambling to get us ready for a walk, I put her down in the stroller and ran to grab a sweater. I'll admit that I took longer than necessary, checking it out in the mirror to see if it looked nice, even though I'd be putting on a jacket. As I decided whether I looked drab or fab, she started with her little cry. The same one I always hear when she wants to be picked up. "Just a minute!" I called, "Why can't mom have just one minute to look nice when I spend so much time making you look adorable?" I was frustrated with this new development. But still, the cry continued. Finally I stalked back into the living room to see my daughter hanging out of her stroller, little legs dangling and little hands hanging on to the sides for dear life! I ran over and picked her up, repeating "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry! Mommy will never leave you alone again!". Immediately the story of my brother popped into my head and I regretted ignoring her cry for even one moment. Although she would have dropped only six inches, that's a long ways for a seven month old baby!
I can't guarantee that I won't ever ignore my child's cries again, but at least I have a better understanding of where my mom was when my brother stuck his fingers in the stove. And now she always gets strapped in to the stroller immediately. I know that there will be other less than perfect parenting moments but for these times I have a mantra that I have often repeated to my daughter in times of stress, "I'm doing the best I can!"