Monday, December 16, 2013

Parenthood: Week 29 - The Car Ride

The sound of your child crying brings up the feeling of urgency to do whatever you can to make that crying stop. Sometimes you can take your baby in your arms and make them feel better. Even though you may not be able to make your child stop crying at least you feel them close as you try. Sometimes however you just have to listen to them cry and there’s nothing you can do about it.

One of the things I hate the most about being a parent is driving in a car with Ollie and hearing him cry in the back seat. Sometimes I’m alone and other times there’s someone else in the car with me. During the times that I’m alone, it’s torture. Often I will pull over and check to see if his diaper is wet or if he needs something. Other times he’s fine and he just needs a couple minutes to calm down. Those times are not fun as I try to focus on driving, but all I can think about is how much I want to make Ollie feel better.

The other night was different. Diana was in the back seat with Ollie. He was upset and crying. His nap schedule had gotten mixed up that day and he had spent more time than ordinary in the car as we drove back form a holiday outing. For what seemed like an eternity, but was more likely ten minutes I drove in unfamiliar territory as Ollie cried and Diana tried to calm him down.

Diana told me to focus on driving us home safely while she took care of Ollie. But I couldn’t block out Ollie’s cries as I willed myself to focus on the road. There was nothing I could do for Ollie that Diana wasn’t already doing, but I wished in vain that there were. There is no one I trust with Ollie’s care more than my wife and my desire to do something had nothing to do with my lack of trust in Diana, is was just my primal reaction to the sound of his cries.

You don’t know the depth that you have to draw from both physically and emotionally as parent until you have a child. In this same way I have continued to be impressed at the strength and ability of Diana as a parent. As Ollie continued to cry, Diana remained calm. Like a prayer, Diana reminded Ollie that we were all together as a family in the car.  Diana told Ollie about all the people that loved him and how so many people in this world cared about him.

As I struggled to focus on driving, tension built inside of me.  Diana’s voice continued to be calm and soothing. I imagined her calm face lovingly looking down into Ollie’s sad face full of tension and wet with tears. As I felt tears well up in my own eyes hearing him cry, Diana's voice gave me strength.  If she could hold it together in this moment than so could Iß.

Before I knew it I was out of the car pumping gas and Diana was nursing Ollie in the back seat. Standing in the sub-zero weather, I felt relieved as Ollie cuddled up to Diana. Entering the car there was the soft sound of Ollie nursing and when I turned around I saw Diana leaning close whispering to Ollie.

For the rest of the car ride, Ollie slept and Diana joined me in the front of the car. Those ten minutes were hard but we got through it. 

Being a parent is all about going through these struggles all of the time.  We find strength in our partners.  They who show us the potential we have inside and our capacity to work through tough circumstances.  I always knew that Diana would be a great parent but until that night I had no idea how her strength as a parent would save me as well.     

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