I am that mom. The one all the other women look at with pity oozing from their stares. The one that makes them hug their little gems a little closer. The mom of a screamer.
Not a cute "I want my way!" squawk. I may or may not have somehow mothered an alien being with decibel levels unheard of on the earthly plane. A real life banshee, if you will.
Before I hear the chorus of haters who can't understand how I'd say such awful things about my littlest cherub, just stop. I love my child more than life itself or, trust me, he'd never have made it this far.
I can now understand how wild mothers – the wildebeest, the lioness, the sharks – eat their young. There's a lot of love in my heart for my little stinker, but sometimes, it feels like if I'd just consumed him shortly after birth my life would be so much…quieter.
My youngest has been a crier from just a few short moments after he was pulled into this world. As all mothers do, I yearned to hear the first breaths of my love as he struggled to come to terms with his new existence. I fought with the IVs and ignored the anesthesiologist as I arched off the table trying to connect with him, pleading with him to just breathe. Until I heard those first yells, I was inconsolable. After all, for ten months, the thought of those sweet sounds carried me when my swollen feet couldn’t.
And then, my prayers answered, he shrieked. Tears of joy fell from my eyes. That sound was the single most enjoyable noise in the room. It drowned out the beeping machines, quieted the shouts from doctors, silenced even the beating of my own heart.
Days, weeks, months later that sound was no longer a sweet hum of life, but rather a bellowing to the depths of hell I felt my life was slowly starting to resemble.
We tried everything. Burping led to spewing of vomit. Rocking led to tears and screams. Car rides were only tolerable with those noise cancelling ear buds. Our lives became a living mosh pit where we not only hated the music, but we were beginning to hate the band.
The love I wanted to have for my bundle of joy was slipping out of reach. The constant noise he produced was becoming too much for even a mother to find adoring.
We sought help and discovered he was suffering from various medical issues: colic, reflux, and an intolerance to the formula we were using. After working with doctors, this fixed the ailments, but didn’t touch the shrieking. Nothing we did stopped the nonstop crying.
Those cute little bouncy chairs: cried. The swing that all babies love: cried so hard he attempted to flip himself out. Bath: he turned red screaming. Swaddling: he would hold his breath in fits of rage. Baby wearing: great idea, brought the screams to ear level, ensuring I didn’t escape the sound for any length of time.
I swear I would have sold my left boob (I am still considering, if there are takers out there) to make this baby stop crying. Day in and day out, out he cries.
Pediatricians tell you to look for exciting mini-milestones to look out for, hoping you'll hang in there. My favorites: when he reaches three months, he'll sleep through the night and be happier; when he can crawl/stand, he'll stop refluxing and subsequently crying; when he's a year old, he'll be past all the baby stuff; when he can talk and tell you his problems, he'll stop relying on tears. Well, ladies and gents, it’s been all these and more, and the kid still brings grown men to their knees with his high pitched screeches.
I should make note that he is the most adorable child. Looks that could adorn the covers of magazines, a smile to melt butter, and a contagious laugh that brings even our grumpiest old uncle to grin. His personality is solid. He's a leader, inclusive of all children, and learns quick as a whip. He's a climber, scaling even the highest of counters, and he's determined too. He's inquisitive and engaged in life. A lover, never a fighter.
Until, he doesn’t get his way. Until something in his brain cues him to scream, and the water works begin to drown the crowd. Those that “oohed and ahhed” slowly step back. The looks of judgment shift my way, and instantly I become the party-pooper of the playgroup.
I want to tell everyone how sorry I am in every language I know. I want to bury my head in a bag of chips. I want to sip wine from a cup the size of Lake George. I want to be swallowed up by some huge sinkhole. I want to drop him off somewhere and have him fixed. I want to stop mommy-ing. I want to scream.
But, apparently, none of this is possible. I still have to drop his older brother off at preschool while he yells the whole time. I still have to suffer through days of being alone in the house because he isn’t cute anymore to any of my friends and relatives. I still have to bribe and feed him through grocery shopping. I still have to keep waiting until he gets through this “phase.”
And while it feels like I am the only mom suffering in the shadows of my poltergeist, I know I am not. And although sometimes I look at him with exhaustion, and some days wish he was different, I still watch him sleep. As I do, the love that was slowly depleted throughout the day, recharges and the courage I need to face another day, reboots. I hold my head up and face each challenge because I can’t stop being his mommy…I love him too much.
I am that mom. That one you will pity and thank God you are not. The next time you see me, don’t judge. Just give me a high five, and remind me to keep on trucking.
I promise, I'll do the same for you.