Binkies, Bottles, & Cries, Oh My by Melissa Rosella

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We made our way to the changing facility  before swim lessons. It was only a few days into our lessons with Ms. Linda. James was brand new to this swimming lesson gig.

James is a little afraid of the pool, still, and not super confident in his abilities. I have to run and hide during the lessons or he’ll just cry and reach for me.

Hope has had a lot of lessons & a lot of practice swimming. Hope is incredibly confident in the water and would swim for hours on end if she was allowed to. She’s two years older than her brother. James always gets a little nervous before swim lessons, at first, but Hope always calms him with her sweet & soothing voice.

As we made our way into the changing area, I walked in, first, with Hope ahead of me, and James behind me. I heard the usual nervous little cry that is typical before lessons from my youngest. I knew he’d be ok after he saw Sissy hop in the water, as she gives him strength and makes everything ok. Thank God for siblings, thank God for Hope.

A woman with a white polo was restocking the sunscreen, lotion, deodorant, & more. She had a deep accent. It sounded Ukrainian. We all smiled. Hope even piped up a quick greeting.

She heard James crying, quietly, and said:

“We don’t cry here. You don’t NEED to cry. This is a happy place. Stop crying”

I disagree.

“We don’t cry here. You don’t need to cry. This is a happy place. Stop crying”

I think it is profoundly dangerous and detrimental to tell our children not to cry, to stop crying, to get over it, & to move on.

Why are we so afraid to let our children cry, to be themselves, & to express their real emotions?

When we do not allow others to express themselves, vulnerably, we are absolutely shutting them down & shutting them out.

As a result of not being heard, these people feel invalidated, unseen, & overlooked. The results are not good, as they then push down their pain & shut out their sorrow. They begin to numb in unhealthy ways by turning to: alcoholism, drug addiction, nicotine addiction, disease in the body, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, &/ or suicide.

We have to stop quieting people, keeping people small, & pushing them towards compliance and complacency.

We matter, our words matter, and how we respond matters. To cut someone off, to not allow them to express themselves, openly & freely, is to not be there for them at all.

We have to: get our feelings out, vent, be real, & be honest. We must allow emotions to rise to the surface, to recognize those emotions, to allow our true selves to be seen, and to allow our true selves to be heard.

As the observer, we need to make eye contact, be good listeners, & offer a soft place to fall.

I said this to the assertive lady with an accent:

“I disagree, I think crying is normal and healthy. I cry when I’m sad and when I’m happy. I cry when I’m mad and I cry when I’m moved. Crying is totally ok.”

She gave me a puzzled look and I told her to have nice day.

Everyone, and their mom has an opinion, especially lately. & people love to tell you their point of view about everything and anything. & that is all it is… a point of view.

James still sucks on a pacifier and I’m ok with it. He’ll be 3 in a little over a month. People make comments:

“You don’t NEED that pacifier. Pacifiers are for babies. You are a big boy, you don’t Need it.”

I disagree.

“You don’t NEED that pacifier. Pacifiers are for babies. You are a big boy, you don’t NEED it.”

James still drinks out of a bottle. Yes, I warm up his milk. Yes, I let him have 24 ounces of milk per day. I get these comments:

“You don’t NEED that bottle. Bottles are for babies. You are a big boy, you don’t NEED it.”

I disagree.

“You don’t NEED that bottle. Bottles are for babies. You are a big boy, you don’t NEED it.”

People are going to have opinions.

I can choose to respond or let it go.

All people  have a point of view and they have the right to that point of view.

My point of view is this:  if my kiddo cries, I’ll be there to support him. If my kid wants to suck on a pacifier, I’ll be there to support him. If my kid wants to drink out of a warmed milk bottle, I’ll be there to support him.

When we teach our children to mask their emotions, to be ‘tough,’ to not be a ‘baby,’ to not cry, to be strong, to be quiet, to be complacent & compliant, we teach our kids to stay small, to stay quiet, and to push down how they truly feel. & when we mask our true feelings, when we pretend, cover up, act as if all is well, we get SICK.

Adults and children are allowed, & are to be encouraged, to express what they want.

We can hear their request, take a breath, and decide to fulfill the request or to not fulfill the request.

To ignore the request may result in giving the person the message that their request isn’t valid, doesn’t matter, is unseen, or is unheard. To not acknowledge the request could lead one to believe their request is not important. 

At the end of the day, we all want the very same thing, to be acknowledged, to be seen, and to be heard.

We need to know that our point of view is of value, too, and that we are open to that point of view.

& since I am James’ mom, I get to say how long he sucks on his pacifiers and drinks his warm bottle.

To be honest, I’m putting it off. He’s, most likely, our last baby and I’m holding on to every single second of this time before he goes from 2 to 3. I can’t believe he’s getting so big.

I remember when he was a brand new baby boy and I could easily cradle him in my arms and rock him in our hand-me-down rocking chair. These days, his feet and cute toddler toes dangle over the edge and his head, full of blonde hair, hangs over the other edge of the very same rocker I spent night after night breastfeeding him for 2 whole years in the very same spot in his blue-painted wall nursery.

Night after night, he requests to be rocked and night after night, I fulfill his request.

I’ll do it until he stops making the request. 

Sweet boy, please do not stop requesting to be rocked. Not quite ready for that.

Night after night, he requests his pacifier and night after night, I fulfill his request.

I’ll do it until he stops making the request. Not quite ready for that.

Sweet boy, someday you will no longer request your pacifier. & I’ll be a wee bit sad.

Night after night, he requests his warm bottle and night after night, I fulfill his request.

I’ll do it until he stops making the request. Not quite ready for that.

Sweet boy, someday you will no longer request your warm bottle. & I’ll be a wee bit sad.

& the days and weeks and years will pass, sweet boy, but you, Sweet Baby James, you will always be my baby boy. May you always know how much you are loved yesterday, today, and tomorrow, to the moon and back again.

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