Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A cry in the dark

Did you ever see this movie? A Cry in the Dark? The one starring Meryl Streep as the distraught mother of a baby who is taken by dingoes in the Australian Outback while the family is camping?

I saw it in Paris, of all places, with my very funny and good friend, Bronwyn, who was, coincidentally, born and raised, for a while anyway, in Australia.

It was a drizzly gray day and we were sick of the French and their language and their attitude. We needed a few hours away, surrounded by English, even if it happened to be spoken in that crazy Aussie accent, with French subtitles running below.

The famous takeaway line from the movie is, of course, “the dingo ate my baby.” And Bronwyn had the accent down perfectly, being Aussie born and all. This phrase was uttered often during the remaining weeks of trip, and always received laughs. Hell, even Elaine dons an Australian accent and proclaims, “Maybe the dingo ate your baby!” in an episode of Seinfeld.

But really, when you think about the fact that the movie was based on a true story, you have to wonder just how awful that would be. Your baby girl taken off in the night by wild dogs? It’s unthinkable, really.

Today, anyway.

But going back 1,000, 500, or even 100 years, infant mortality was commonplace. It was a fact of life. Perhaps not at the jaws of dingoes in large part, but frequent nonetheless.

Mothers, however, were (and continue to be) wired to prevent this. It’s in our genes to procreate, then to protect and provide for our babies.

It’s instinct. And instinct dies hard.

So I find myself, once more, sleeping lightly, listening for that cry in the dark.

Do you remember it? All you mamas out there? Do you remember the cry in the dark?

What about the ever annoying phantom cry?

I know you do. I know you remember it.

The phantom cry; was it the baby? Or just your imagination? You don’t want to get up -- you’re comfortable, you’re warm, but is it the baby you’re hearing? Is that why you awoke? Does she need you? Are the dingoes at the door?

I’m plagued by the phantom cry lately. And discerning the real from the shadowy chimera is made all the more difficult by the fact that my husband insists prefers to sleep with the ceiling fan on.

Woosh, woosh, woosh, woosh, woosh, waaa?, woosh.

Was that the baby?

It doesn’t really matter, once you hear it. Once you hear it, or think you hear it, you’re awake. Wide awake.

And once you’re wide awake, you might as well haul your weary ass out of bed, walk down the hall, and gingerly open that door. Just to make sure.

Nope, no dingoes at my door tonight.


Logical Libby said...

I find since we brought Meg home I do not sleep the same at all. It's like I am very aware I am alseep, and always am ready to spring from bed.

And she has a shirt that says "dingo snack."

Anonymous said...

Mother fear never leaves, although it does lessen a bit when your babies have babies. Then you begin to worry about your grandchildren

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, this is so sweet, Beth. If I were there I would *totally* stand guard against dingos at Baby C's door. (And I'd secretly disconnect the ceiling fan too.)


(p.s. *Love* the shirt, Libby. Nice.)

Me, You, or Ellie said...

"dingo snack"? Really? That's too funny, Libby. I may have to hunt one of those down.

And thanks, Ellie -- disconnection is a marvolous idea :-)


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Ah yes, I remember the phantom babies very well
I was always amazed that you did not use a monitor, I relied on that thing to show me the noise (or lack thereof ) with the little red lights .

Glad Capri is staying clear of dingoes!


Aline said...

I am so with you on this one, except I'm the one with the fan (swoosh) obsession. You're liable to cause WIII if any disconnecting is going on.

I'm embarrassed to say that I've gotten really good at nudging my husband, acting like I'm more asleep than I really am, just so he'll go check. heehee Hey, a girl's gotta do (sometimes) what a girl's gotta do!

pining for Paris in central PA said...

too funny!
i guess having a second floor where everyone sleeps, kept me from every thinking Dingoes were snacking on my babies :)

I am always shocked at the males ability to sleep through both the phantom and actual crying baby. My "babies" are 14, 12 and 9 and i can still here a whimper or vomiting child from a mile away while their dad sleeps away, undisturbed.

Wish I had been in Paris with you and Bronwyn :)