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All We Need is a Little Pat on the Back

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The Day My Baby Comforted Me

One of my favorite memories of young motherhood and “the baby days” was a day when I picked up my eight month old daughter to comfort her. I picked her up and patted her back. It was something I did all the time, an automatic and natural response when she cried. On this particular day, as I paced the room patting her back, I felt the weight of a tiny hand patting me on my shoulder and a gentle baby kiss on my cheek. My baby was comforting me.

Now that my daughters are teenagers, it seems that they are more interested in being prickly than in being comforting. While I find this trying at times, I know that it is developmentally normal, even necessary. I cannot truly resent it because I want my daughters to become independent and strong individuals, even if it hurts a bit. My older daughter heading back to school recently was one of those times that hurt a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I would not change a thing. I am proud of my daughter’s choice to go away to school, but when I got home after putting her on the airplane, I felt I needed some recovery time. I sat down to read quietly. That is when I felt it. A little hand—bigger now, but the same little hand—patting me on the shoulder and leaning down for a “just because” kiss. Not a word was spoken. My younger daughter– my now 5’7” baby–was again comforting me.

As parents, it is our job to give, to protect and to provide. It is also our job to demand and to inspire. Parenting can seem daunting and overwhelming. It can be beyond frustrating. It can feel thankless and it is frequently exhausting; yet somehow doing this work can also be our greatest joy. All I needed was a little pat on the back to remind me how worthwhile every second of it is.

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

September 12, 2012

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