Dear Jo: Crying It Out

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July 6, 3 years A.B. (after-baby)

Dear Jo,

“It’s only 5 minutes,” Paul said. You didn’t even want to tell him about what Dr. Hughes suggested, but when he kept asking about the appointment and how it went and then Emerson piped in with, “Dr. Hughes said Mama should let Lyla cry,” you had no choice than to explain.

“It’s only 5 minutes,” he said again. “How often has she cried for longer than that when she has been in our arms?”

You still didn’t respond.

Dear Jo: Crying It Out

“I know you don’t want to do this, but I also know you don’t want to keep getting up in the middle of the night either.”

“It’s not that bad. I mean it’s just a phase….”

“It’s not that bad? Maybe we should wait and have this discussion at midnight tonight. Or 2 a.m. Or 4 a.m. Or possibly 6….”

“I get it. It’s just…I’ve read about what letting your baby cry does to her. I don’t want her to think we’ve abandoned her.”

“We haven’t. It’s only for 5 minutes. If she doesn’t go to sleep on her own, then you can comfort her. If she does go to sleep on her own, then we can celebrate.”

So that’s how you came to be sitting outside your bedroom door, listening to her cry. You thought the door would muffle the cries more than it does. You hoped it would muffle her cries. Paul and Emerson are in the living room, playing the memory game. They wanted you to play also, but how could you focus? How could you remember where the other purple hippo is hiding when your mind is consumed by your daughter’s crying? You had thought you could spend this five-minute interval catching up on some of your magazine reading. The stack of publications has grown ridiculously high over the last year. But as you sit on the hallway floor, the magazine stays closed on your lap. The only thing that can hold your attention more than the cries is the timer counting down from 5 minutes.

Poor Lyla had no idea what was going to happen. Paul changed her. You nursed and rocked her. She looked at you and smiled, but you couldn’t make eye contact with those innocent blue eyes of hers. When you put her in the crib, she got quiet for a minute before letting out some coos and giggles. You tip-toed to the door, hoping she wouldn’t recognize your absence, but moments after the door clicked shut, the cries began. She started with mild discontent that quickly escalated into screams reminiscent of the time Emerson’s train crashed off the tracks and bumped her on the head.

Still, you waited.

The boys played in the living room. You sat in the hallway. The clock counted down until finally it gave you permission. You immediately opened the door, ran to Lyla’s rescue and scooped her up. She quickly fell asleep in your arms, exhausted from her effort. You wiped away her tears as your own tears streamed down your cheeks.

Dear Jo: A {fictional} Diary of a Modern Mom“Dear Jo: A Diary of a Modern Mom” is a serial fiction story written by Meagan Church. Stay tuned for the next diary entry of one mom’s attempt to chronicle what she has been told are the days she shouldn’t forget…spit-up, tantrums, milestones and all. Visit the Dear Jo page to catch up on the already-published entries. And, be sure to subscribe today, so you don’t miss a single installment:


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