Monday, May 16, 2011

Unsympathic Mama

I have a confession to make. I'm not so good with crying. When a beastie gets hurt or they're really scared, I'm good for about five to ten minutes of crying depending on the level of emergency. But you know when it gets past that mark, I find myself getting a wee bit impatient. When it crosses the twenty minute mark I get pretty snippy. I am not proud of this but it's where I am.

Last night, Piper fell down the last three three stairs of the outside stair case. It wasn't a bad fall as she was holding on the railing but she did get scrapped up and pulled her hand a bit. I held her feeling bad for her wounds as she cried, softly leaning into me. But then she just didn't stop crying. And it got louder. Within five minutes she was WAILING as if she had cut off her hand. At that point, I found myself getting annoyed and snippy. H remprimanded me when I finally snapped that she need to stop. 

And I felt really awful. I don't want to be impatient with beastie crying. I want to be sympathic and loving. I don't want to deny them their pain. But I can't help but feel that there ought to be a level of apprioatness to their responses to pain. It's not so much "Toughen up" as "Really do we need that much DRAMA for a small scratch?" I feel as if there ought to be a middle ground.

But to deny someone their response to pain seems a bit sadistic.

When I was in the hospital with my burns (2nd and 3rd degree on my thighs, I was seven), I used to scream every time they changed my bandages. It hurt beyond words. When the nurses peeled off the bandages, they usually peeled off skin. They were incredibly immune to my pain. They would shush me and urge me to be brave and tough. I tried. By the end of my stay, I could tolerate the changes with just tears. But then they gave me a bath. It was horrible. Like being dipped into acid. I fought them as they held me in the tub and when they finally let me out, I ran, naked and howling to my room to my mother who they prohibited from coming. The nurse was yelling at me to "Shut up!" as she chased me down those echoing halls. Whenever I am in pain, I hear those words coming back to shame me. Even in labor, I tried so hard to not cry out or make noise. With R, when my midwife chastised me to not yell but to breath, I felt like I had to keep that pain quiet, manageable under control.

And now I am worried that I will silence my children's own pain. It is as usual this struggle for balance. I do believe pain is cultural as much as physical and that part of my job is to teach my children to negotiate the cultural world in which they live. But on the other hand, I do not wish to deny them their pain. It is a fine line.

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