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Ungraceful parenting and why it’s okay sometimes: A mother’s epiphany.

Our baby girl 4 months

“I’m just so ungraceful at this parenting thing sometimes,” I said in frustration to my dad recently. I was just coming off of another round of the insane parenting experiences that happen when you’ve got one that’s two and another one that’s four months. I was still heated and getting over my extreme agitation/anger/frustration.

He (my dad) looked at me almost a little shocked by my comment and said, “Nobody is.” Period.

I guess he’s right. And in some part it does make me feel better. Still.

Recently as I was driving the last leg of what turned out to be a four hour car ride through traffic hell with a four-month old screaming full throttle in the back seat, I had an epiphany. Sometimes, it’s not about getting through it gracefully, as I am always striving to do, it’s really just about surviving the experience.

“Are you okay?” my friend texted me after I got home.

“Not really, but the damage is not permanent.” I responded.

I had spent two hours reaching around the back seat every 15 seconds to 2 minutes trying to find her pacifier or toy to get her happy again, while driving down the highway. Finally, after all of that time with just gentle fussing, she decided she couldn’t be so generous anymore… she needed out of the car seat and NOW! However, since we were driving on the freeway, and I had already made one stop to nurse her, hoping that would help the situation, it just wasn’t possible. After a bit of, “I’m warning you, this isn’t good,” crying she released into full throttle sobbing.

I tried the tactic my girlfriend had mentioned when I called her to say, “I need help!”: Oming. I chanted over and over a short Sanskrit chant the translates to, “This is perfect. That is perfect. If the perfect is taken from the perfect, only the perfect remains.” It did nothing to calm my little girl, but it did help me survive.

When my babies cry—like most mothers I have an internal body reaction that I cannot help. Every particle of my being feels the need to make it stop. I can feel the upset from the inside of my being out. My impulse is to stop everything and soothe the baby. I can’t help it. However, sometimes you can’t, soothe the baby that is. Like, when you’re driving on the freeway in traffic and you’re the only adult in the car.

As my daughter was screaming from the backseat I had many thoughts. “This won’t kill her…. Eventually she’ll be okay. I know many people who were colicky as babies which meant they cried full throttle for hours at a time and as adults or teenagers they are okay. My daughter will be okay.”

“Will I be okay?”

Chant some more.

That evening when we were finally able to get out of the car in a flash I knew we had all survived, some of us more gracefully than others. Moments after being released from her seat my daughter gave me a HUGE smile. That’s when I realized she wasn’t holding on to any of this… so why should I?”

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