The Moment I Learned to Really Love My Child

My mom was on a plane 39,000 feet above me; my husband was at work on the other side of The East River; my nearest friend was one state away; my baby was screaming in the crib, and I was on the living room floor completely losing my shit.


She was only a few weeks old, and I lacked experience. I read books, but no parenting book can prepare you to actually be a parent. It had been a nearly sleepless week, and we were both trudging through exhaustion. That day, I tried everything. Everything. Still, she cried. Frustration bubbled up, consuming me, and before the thought of doing something I’d later regret had the chance to wiggle it’s way into my head, I remembered what the nurses said: it’s okay to let her cry sometimes. It’s okay to take a moment to breathe. And never shake the baby.

I couldn’t attempt to soothe her for another bloodcurdling second, so I put her in her crib, shut the door, and walked away.

I pressed my forehead against the cool wood floor, curled my legs into my chest, and left my arms limp at my sides as I wrenched tears from my eyes. I heaved words assembled into desperate pleas at the universe. I prayed to a god I didn’t even know I really believed in for determination and strength to be the mother my crying child needed and deserved.

“Please help me. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know how to make her stop crying. I’ll do anything,” I begged. “What do I do?”

I rolled over, spread-eagle, and stared at the ceiling. Her cries were reaching decibels so high that the glass chandelier was swaying ever so slightly, reflecting bits of light off the brass. I imagined melting into the floor to disappear from my new role as mother, to hide from that hideous light fixture, to hide from life.

“What do I do?” I repeated in a whisper. I pinched my eyes shut and searched my brain for advice I’d been given and chapters I’d read on this sort of thing. I couldn’t come up with anything that I hadn’t already tried. “Why do I suck at parenting so bad? What am I doing wrong?”

Someone – not me, not anyone in the hallway – someone outside and inside my head simultaneously in the most loving, calming voice said, “Just love her.”

I sat up, eyes wide. I knew that advice. It was something my mother had said to me once.


We were taking my dog on a walk through my neighborhood, urging contractions to kick in. I remember flashes of four-family brownstones as the words left her lips. I thought it was awful advice. How could I not love my child?


My eyes darted around the living room to see where the voice came from. “Hello?” I asked. No one answered, but I didn’t imagine the voice. It was as real as the cries resonating from behind my child’s bedroom door.  Was it God? Was it my own conscience?  “Just love her?” I asked back. As I repeated the words out loud, something clicked. In the moment when my baby needed me most I wasn’t loving her.

I carefully stood and pushed wet tangles of hair from my face with a fraction of new determination and strength. Yes, this is difficult. Yes, I’m alone, but I have to do it. She and I only have each other.

I opened her door. Her squishy arms, tiny fists, and face the color of confusion, were the first things I saw. Remorse twisted its way through my gut. Am I a horrible mother for letting her cry? I went to her crib with breath stuck in my chest, new tears falling from my eyes. I knew I had to comfort her.

I knew I had to love her.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

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20 thoughts on “The Moment I Learned to Really Love My Child

  1. so emotional but so beautifully written like i was inside your head

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a new mum I find it both sad and reassuring to read other mum’s stories where they too are crying alone on the floor, baby howling nearby, and sending desperate pleas to the universe for answers and salvation. It seems like all mums suffer through this anguish of being alone and feeling that we’re ‘not enough’ for our child in these moments. I wish this was talked about more often, more openly.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.


  3. What a necessary topic to write about and to share, Danielle. I will definitely show it to my daughter who needs to know she is not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing. I’m speechless

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautifully written piece. It was eloquent and emotional in equal measure. As a parent and as a reader, I loved it for different reasons. Amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I liked the honesty of this piece, although it’s been said before. Probably something a lot of mothers have been through but few would have the bravery to admit. I particularly like the details, especially the ‘face the color of confusion.’

    Liked by 1 person

  7. loved your write-up for the candidness. A mom is born when the baby is born and she grows up with the child. parenting is a mixed bag.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly is. I’ve learned so much from my children. Thanks for commenting.


  8. I loved “another bloodcurdling second.” I remember so well the desperation of those first few weeks of crying baby. You drew all of us moms in with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It was certainly a turning point in my life. I think most parents go through it at some point or another.


  9. Though I haven’t yet become a mother, the struggle is natural. So good to hear you found your strength.
    Good wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, as someone said already, there are so many of us mothers who identify with this experience, and we didn’t have the benefit–and comfort–of knowing how normal it all is. So glad you shared this.

    Liked by 1 person

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