A few weeks ago, a Facebook post written by a new mother, Dayna Mager, went viral. I’m reposting it not only because I found it so touching, but also because the message it conveys is so important.
A baby will NOT become spoiled if you what this mother did. In fact, quite the opposite. A child who is mirrored this way will grow up self-confident and able to empathize with others without losing themselves in the process. Infants abandoned in orphanages and never interacted with (even though all their physical needs are met) will develop severe attachment disorders which could lead to complex PTSD or worse, personality disorders like Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder. It’s why so many of the children adopted from places like Russia, Africa, and Eastern Europe have had so many problems adjusting to their new families or developing healthy attachments to anyone else. It may be too late for some of them, because the “critical period” during infancy when they should have been closely bonded with their mothers or other caregivers was missed.
The part I have bolded in the post shattered me as I read it.
Here is Dayna’s post and the accompanying photo.
This was from several weeks back, yes, I climbed in the crib in hopes to soothe my screaming, teething, blushed faced, and tear soaked little girl. My husband came home to this, and I am re-posting because this captures the essence of my heart, and my “why…” There I was in the heat of this exhausting, beautiful thing we call parenthood, and I remembered a promise I made to her.
One of the first times Matt and I left Luella, was to a worship concert. At that conference, a missionary shared his story, and it shook me to the core. A moment that would forever be burned in my fragile, hormone raging, new mommy heart that had already become 100xs more fragile after meeting her.
That missionary was in an orphanage in Uganda, and he has been in many before, but this one was different. He walked into a nursery with over 100 filled cribs with babes. He listened in amazement and wonder as the only sound he could hear was silence. A sound that is beyond rare in ANY nursery, let alone a nursery where over 100 new babes laid. He turned to his host and asked her why the nursery was silent. Then , her response to him is something I will never, ever forget. EVER. This was my “why” moment.
She looked at him and said, “After about a week of them being here, and crying out for countless hours, they eventually stop when they realize no one is coming for them…”
…They stop crying when they realize no one is coming for them. Not in 10 minutes, not in 4 hours, and maybe, perhaps, not ever…
I broke. I literally could have picked up pieces of my heart scattered about the auditorium floor. But instead, it stirred in me a longing, a hunger.. A promise in my spirit.
We came home, and that night as Luella rested her tiny little 10lb body against mine and we rocked, I made a promise to her. A promise that I would always come to her.
At 2:00am when pitiful desperate squeals come through a baby monitor, I will come to her.
Her first hurt, her first heartbreak, we will come to her. We will be there to hold her, to let her feel, to make decisions on her own, and we will be there. We will show her through our tears and frustrations at times, that it is okay to cry, and it’s ok to feel. That we will always be a safe place, and we will always come to her.
Related to this, here is a post I wrote a few months ago about a very interesting experiment, The Still Face Experiment, which graphically shows the devastating effect lack of mirroring can have on young children.
I’d guess that most of us who suffer from C-PTSD, BPD or other trauma/attachment based disorders had mothers who believed it was best to let a baby “cry it out.” Back in the 1950s and 1960s, letting a baby cry it out in their own room was the fashion.