As I was standing next to the fire, reading a book (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close…excellent!), I could hear a small yet pronounced voice saying, “Mom, I’m sad.” Usually I’m pretty stone cold when it comes to my girls crying out right after putting them down for bedtime. Nighttime is my sacred time, but how in the world can you ignore a “Mom, I’m sad.” The small voice was Ava, and as I opened her door you could sense the immediate security she found in my presence. I asked her if she wanted to cuddle. “Yeah, in the chair.” We cuddled in the chair and as we sat my mind started thinking of this…
So many times when Cali was nonverbal and couldn’t find words to express her emotions, I would become so frustrated and irritated. Instead of words all I got was crying and whining. I wish I could say my heart was always softened when she would cry out, but the truth is it would not. Instead, my irritation and frustration would get the best of me and most of the time I would end up ignoring her, thinking ignoring would solve the problem. No, it never solved the problem. Cali would just become exhausted from crying and eventually, without knowing, fall asleep. At this point, some of you may be thinking my mothering skills need some work. And some, of you may be thinking I’m just plain heartless. But I promise you all heartless mothering was never the case. I was a mom who, with nothing left in her, had no idea how to comfort and communicate with a nonverbal and HIGHLY emotional child.
When Ava was crying out these three simple words, my heart was immediately softened. And as I sat cuddling Ava, thinking back to earlier years with Cali, I realized her cries, while only cries and no words, were just as tender as Ava’s. I could have had countless cuddling moments with Cali. Moments mothers cherish and cling to forever. But instead I only let my frustration and irritation settle in and created missed opportunities. I’m hoping the future makes up for my lacking:) Sorry Cali.
Maybe I can’t go back and experience those lost opportunities, but I can share this experience with all of you and hope that you can experience those tender moments. Experience them and relish in them. Yes, the nightly, routinely cry from the nonverbal child will be irritating at first, but once you can find a way to reassure them and calm them, they might just come to a place where they can cuddle and create those lasting mom memories.
Some times I do it wrong and other days I do it right, but these smiling faces reassure me I’m must be doing it right enough of the time.