It’s really hard to get to the bottom of a fit of continuous crying. At least when the continuous crier is three months old and was just smiling like a loon two seconds earlier. Marta claimed the afternoon of sobbing and screaming after Nico returned from daycare that first day (last week) was on account of the fact that she felt abandoned. I wondered if three month olds could really feel abandonment.
In the early days of this whole baby thing, when I was reading the Dr. Spock book my mom gave me, I read some seemingly accurate explanation of his about baby crying. He said that at first babies only cry out of actual physical distress. They are hungry. Or they are gassy and it hurts. Or they are tired and need to sleep. Or they are cold. Or hot. But then at some point they develop the capacity, which we all know and love in ourselves, to feel abandoned, rejected, unloved, etc.
And, if Marta is right,–and I am now thinking she might be based on the number of unexplainable crying fits that Nico’s had of late–our baby girl has learned what it means to feel forsaken. And, man, does she let us know.
This weekend we decided to get the hell out of Lubbock. So we went to the peaceful New Mexico mountain town of Ruidoso (ironic considering ruidoso means noisy). It was a four-hour drive. And everything started out fine. We passed through Roswell and saw all the alien statues. We crossed into New Mexico and, in the distance, noticed something that actually looked like elevation. Our hopes elevated with that vista.
Then, with about 20 minutes left in the trip, Nico started to scream. And scream. AND SCREAM.
We thought for a little bit that we could make it through. Marta’s parents were in back soothing her. There were times when the screams abated and we fooled ourselves into thinking she might calm down–or better yet, fall asleep. But then she would wind herself up again and SCREAM. Until, finally, with about seven minutes left to go, Marta pulled over at an abandoned gas station, wormed Nico out of her carseat and held her to her chest. She instantly went quiet.
Because she felt safe. And loved. Etc.
Who knows if all of this started with that first day of daycare and her feeling alone among all the other infants. Or if she’s just growing up. I assume it’s a combination of the two. And in the mornings, when I am feeling philosophical (and Nico is not screaming) I am almost pleased with this change. It means she is becoming more miserable and insecure like the rest of us…er–I mean she’s becoming more human.
But then there are other moments. Those mid-scream moments. And it feels like the sun will never set or rise again. Because increasingly now, Nico is not calmed just by being held. It takes her a long while of being held, by various people in various positions, for her to recognize that she is loved and secure again. And in those moments I feel like I am trapped in a Beckett play. One that never ends.
And then I wonder sometimes if maybe we should have just gotten a parakeet instead.
Kidding. Of course.
But then also not. The worst thing by far about being a parent–at least in my three and a half months at it–is realizing that you created someone who, like the rest of us, is going to suffer. It shouldn’t be such a shocker, but it is.