I was with my son when he cried his first tears. In my yoga pants, my shirt stained with breastmilk, my greasy hair in a ponytail, I looked the archetype of very new motherhood. He was propped on my thighs, facing me, screaming. He was inconsolable, for some newborn reason.
I’d already run through the obvious solutions. He didn’t want to eat, he was clean and dry, he wasn’t falling easily to sleep. I’d also walked through the tricks from the newborn how-to video my husband and I had watched together, when the house was quieter and my belly was round like the earth. I tried bouncing, walking, shushing, rocking, white noise, gas drops. I had pumped his baby knees because that’s what The Almighty Internet recommended for belly aches. No dice.
Since all of that failed, I resorted to talking him through his emotions. “You seem so sad,” I said. (Scream). “I’m so sorry. Just let it out, hon. I’ll be right here.” (Scream).
And then, I watched as his tear ducts kicked in and the dry screams of early infancy gave way to the wet crying that the rest of humanity enjoys at moments of pique or mourning. “Look at that!” I said. (Scream). “You’re actually crying real tears! You’re getting so big and grown up, sir!” (Scream).
So I put the tips of my fingers on the corners of his eyes, scooped the tears up, and drank them. The screaming was starting to make me loopy. “You know, First Tears are an extremely powerful magic,” I told him. (Scream) “It’s not every day you get to drink someone’s very first tears. It means that I’ll have the ability to soothe your tears for the rest of your life. It’s a powerful spell that connects us, you and me.” (Scream).
I remember struggling against the urge to join him in the cry-fest, but I wanted him to know that I could be there for his problems (Scream). Then I remember saying, “Just think, you big thing you. You won’t remember this at all. But me? I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life.” And I tried, then – despite the sleeplessness and the hormones and the swirl of brand-spanking-new motherhood, to embed that moment way deep into my memory banks, so that I’d have it always.