Recently, while visiting a friend in the local hospital, I came upon a young couple with a tiny newborn baby in the hallway, having just seen their pediatrician. The baby was unhappy. I knew because I could hear him wailing from the far end of the hallway. As I approached, I could see the tears, the red cheeks, the scrunched face of the baby, and flashed back to when my own kids were newborns. Then I saw the tears, the red cheeks, the scrunched face of the newborn’s mother. She appeared to be frustrated out of her mind, and I could hear her say between sobs, “Just please stop crying! I just wish he would stop crying!”
A woman, whom I supposed to be the mother of the new mother, was rubbing her back, comforting her by saying, “honey, he’s fine- crying is what babies do. He’s hungry, or wet, but he’s fine. He’s just doing the only thing he knows to do, and that’s to cry.”
As I continued past the young family on my way to the 11th floor elevator, I could only think about those days when my own children were newborns, crying, wailing, making me feel like the worst parent on the planet. But at this point in my life, when several my friends my age are grandparents, those memories bring mixed emotions. We are too old to have more children of our own. And, in the not too distant future, my own kids will begin to have kids of their own, and I will become the understanding grandparent who reminds my kids that “crying is what babies do.” And I am reminded of those close to me who do not have children of their own.
While the repetitive cries of a newborn baby can be an irritating and exhausting sound, those cries can also bring a beautiful reassurance. The reassurance that the cycle of life continues; the hope of a son or daughter to continue the legacy you have established; or maybe, just the joy that comes when the scrunchy-faced cries at long last fade into smiles in silent, blissful sleep.
So, let ’em cry. When they grow up and don’t need you anymore, you’ll cherish the times they did.