Ditching the Pacifier: Why I’m Not in a Rush

It’s two am and like clockwork she appears at my bedside. By now I’m accustomed to this routine: the creak of the door, the sound of her footy pajamas shuffling down the hall, and then, arms raised, she whispers Mama.

Mama, I want you.

Without a thought I hoist her body over mine, and soon she’s a tiny bird between us, settled, roosting. The only sounds in the world: the whir of the fan. The tug of the sheets. The rhythmic in and out of the pacifier that pacifies me.

My middle child was born screaming. He didn’t stop for 77 days. (I counted.) I marked time on an invisible metronome, patting and shusshing and hushing and soothing. It didn’t soothe.

His screams became the undercurrent of my life.

I offered him ointments and remedies and massage oils infused with lavender. I drank special teas, learned to live life one-handed. If he’d only take a pacifier, I thought, like a normal child.

Two years later my daughter was born. Quiet. Happy. Her cries were practical, helpful. She needed to be fed. Changed. She was cold or hot or the swing had stopped swinging. Someone offered her a pacifier and it worked its magic, calming her in her car seat, lulling her to sleep, holding her over until I could find a quiet spot to nurse.

As she grew, there were times I considered taking it away, and sometimes I did. When she wasn’t talking at two I wondered if there was a connection between the pacifier and her speech delay. Older relatives warned me about damage to her teeth, or kindly inquired when I’d force her to give it up.

In conversations with friends I downplayed it all: She only uses it at night, I’d say. Sometimes on long car trips. When the speech pathologist came to our house for therapy, sometimes my daughter would find a binky amongst her toys. Where’d THAT come from? I feigned alarm.

The pacifier became our secret addiction, my daughter’s and mine, always looking for our next fix. The sound it makes as she lies next to me, drifting away, tells me that I’m still needed. A Mama. Not the Mom I am to my older children, the revoker of privileges and the inspector of worksheets.

A Mama. A comforter. A drier of tears and a singer of lullabies. A cheek-kisser. A ring-around-the-rosie Mama who can make it all ok.

I justify this, naturally, by saying that she’s my last baby. I want to baby her. I know the time will come when her pacifier days are long gone, when she won’t want to be held or rocked to sleep. I want to hold on to these fading Mama, I want you days as long as I’m able.

The tiny bird between us now will one day stand at the edge of the nest, spread her feathery wings, and fly.



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  1. Mary Nevin says:

    what a beautiful entry, and sidenote..77 days?! you should get a medal of some kind…ok back to the real stuff, I think this perspective of letting each baby be their own soul is very central to being a good parent, your love for your little ones is so apparent in every word you write, it’s quite lovely to see!
    Mary Nevin recently posted..Wedding Wednesday: What Really MattersMy Profile

  2. ali says:

    What a beautiful post. My son has a pacifier and is deaf and I worry about his speech and the effect it is having but seeing the comfort he gets from it is too hard to break, plus it’s how he gets to and stays asleep, mama a fool if she’s messing with that! I don’t have the excuse of clinging on to him being a baby bcs he’s my first born. Or maybe I do for that very reason!
    Anyway, I think you worded it all perfectly.
    ali recently posted..Moley moley moleyMy Profile

  3. angela says:

    This makes me feel better. DH and I got in an argument yesterday because D ends up in our bed many nights. I am having a hard time transitioning from baby to big boy :( DH is having a hard time transitioning from sleeping soundly to getting kicked in the head by a squirming toddler :)
    angela recently posted..Reflecting on BlissdomMy Profile

    • ML@My3LittleBirds says:

      Angela, we’ve had that same argument with all of our kids. My middle child’s the squirmer in our house…and even I can’t stand to sleep with him!

  4. Right now I want to cry. My baby is now 7. When I adopted her from the orphanage she was nearly 2. I never had “baby” moments with her. She grew up much to fast and much too motherless for those first 2 years. She’s so independent. Too independent, I often worry. Then I feel guilty when she uses her baby talk to uncover the years lost. The one that she only uses with me.
    Marie from Rock The Kasbah recently posted..Time After TimeMy Profile

    • ML@My3LittleBirds says:

      Oh Marie. Do you ever talk to her about this? I’ve also walked down this road, and it’s a difficult one. xoxo

  5. January says:

    I’m right there with you. My almost 2.5 year old still has one and I SWORE up and down I’d never ‘let a child of mine’ keep a ‘soo-soo’ for that long. But alas…here we are with soo-soo still stuck in mouth at naps and bedtimes. (and okay, around the house sometimes too). And I don’t care one bit. He’s also still in a crib with no signs of wanting to switch to a big boy bed. I’m totally fine with that too. ;)
    January recently posted..A Secret Language amongst BrothersMy Profile

  6. dwija says:

    Every child grows out of everything and gets big someday. I’m done pushing them or expecting them or wondering if they should be doing more. All I’m going to do is love them and everything else will fall into place.
    dwija recently posted..A Real Baby! Who Wears Real Clothes!My Profile

  7. Seriously. She’ll get rid of it when she’s ready. My daughter was almost 3 and my son was 2 1/2. There was no forcing. There was just one night they didn’t think to ask at bedtime, and then the next night I said, “eh, I think you’re all done with that” and they agreed. Don’t take away that baby’s comfort, especially if the sound (one of my least favorite, I have to confess) gives YOU comfort, too.
    Jessie Powell recently posted..What the Hell Is This Meme Called AgainMy Profile

  8. Briana says:

    Heya! I know this is somewhat off-topic but I needed to ask. Does building a well-established blog like yours take a massive amount work? I am completely new to blogging however I do write in my journal every day. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!
    Briana recently posted..go hereMy Profile

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