In the animal kingdom, mothers know the cries of their own offspring and can pick them out of a crowd. Being that humans are a part of the animal kingdom, the same holds true for us. I can do this easily with my daughter, Lydia, who is now three. Several times a week, she plays in a crowd of 15 to 20 children. Even if she’s not in my line of sight, I can pick out her joyful squeal as if she were right next to me. But if someone were to ask me to pick out the voice of a different child, there would be no way I could do it. The other happy noises all blend together to me.
She’s also pretty well understood by most people, even strangers. In those few instances where translation is needed, I am right there to decipher her words. I’m her mother. I’m with her all day, every day. I can understand her and she can understand me.
When Benjamin joined us in October, I quickly started to study his different cries, grunts and other noises, so I could meet his needs. I thought we were doing pretty well. He was growing and happy and being enjoyed by his big sister.
But, then he outgrew the distinctive newborn squeaky cry. If he and Lydia were both napping, and one of them cried, I would have to really think and listen to figure out who needed me. Their cries sounded SO similar to me. I would think it was Benjamin, only to go check on him and find him sound asleep. Meanwhile, Lydia would let loose another wail, and I’d hurry to go check on the “right” child.
As he gets even older, their cries continue to sound more and more similar. But at the same time, I find myself re-tuning my ears to distinguish my children, not from a crowd, but from each other. Just this afternoon, Benjamin woke up from his nap with a wail, and I said to myself, “Wow, that really sounds JUST like Lydia,” and at the same time walked straight up to his crib without a detour. In my heart, I knew which child needed me, despite how it sounded on the outside.
Motherhood is a journey where the destination is unclear and the paths are always changing. I am growing right along with my children. I know as they get older, they will continue to grow in similarities, but will not become cookie-cutters of each other. I love dreaming about who they will eventually become.