Cry. It’s Not the Cry—it’s the Crying Alone

Crying. But not alone.


I was taught that babies cry.

I knew that, but what I didn’t know was all the causes of the crying. Soiled diapers, fatigue, gas, missing binkies, teething, growing pains, and any great number of other maladies can cause an infant to cry, howl, keen, lament, yowl, bawl, and bewail. As parents, it’s our responsibility to pay attention to any of those causes. The noise itself is catalytic—our call to action. Sometimes we satisfy all those requirements—by making sure the diaper’s changed, etc.

And sometimes our bird just cried because he felt like it.

Someone else taught me (and I wish I could remember who) that the key is that one’s baby should not cry ALONE. That’s one of the most important jobs we do as parents. We cannot fix everything. In fact, we should avoid that. We should, however, make sure they don’t have those experiences ALONE.

This little life nugget has changed my outlook on many relationship struggles. When Indra has had a tough day at the office (it’s the ad business, after all—is there an easy day?) I can’t go fix things for her. Yes, I’ve offered on several occasions to perform some home-spun direct-action Human Resource activity to a few co-workers, but for some reason, she’s always demurred. Killjoy. Since I can’t fix these things, all I can do is make damn certain she does not experience this type of anxiety, anger, depression, or frustration ALONE. Listening, holding hands, listening dining, sharing, talking, and listening (I’m good at that) gives us humans the company and connection we crave.

The most powerful help we can provide our friends and family is to simply be there. As the stay-at-home parent, that’s my primary role. For our bird, for our aging parents, for those we love.

My mom is currently spiraling down into the deep pit of dementia. Once easily the sharpest tool in the shed, Mom has lost much of her short-term memory and the long-term portion of her hard drive is rapidly becoming fragmented. There’s not a damn thing I can do about it—I’m powerless. She’s nearly 91; this happens, I know. And what can I offer?

I can make damn sure she does not experience this alone.

Does someone you love feel alone?


Image of my mother on a pier gazing into the distance cry

Gazing out.