Empathy is the capacity to recognize, and to some extent share feelings (both positive and negative) that are being experienced by another sentient being. Without being empathetic, you can never be compassionate, which from the Buddhist perspective is the purest and most ultimate form of love. If someone is incapable of feeling empathy, they are labeled a sociopath, or psychopath. Not something I exactly aspire to, but after a year of parenting I wouldn’t mind an hour or two of being one.
Not only do I feel overwhelming empathy for The Munch when she suffers, but I also have to deal with whatever she is going through directly. It is not like she goes off on her own to process. “Oh, I will be right back Mom. I am just going to think this over in my room and come back when I got everything sorted. Why don’t you just think of a funny status update while I do that.” It is really up to me to figure out what is going on, and some how come up with the solution.
So let me describe to you my worst night of motherhood thus far.
I put her to bed at 9:00, and by 11:00 she has woken up eight times. She is teething… a process that makes me believe in the devil, and that Satan is being reborn in the mouth of The Munch. From 11:00-6:00am she wakes up about every twenty minutes. She is sweating with a fever, thrashing, kicking, crying, grunting, moaning, and the occasional wailing. The only consolation is my boobs, which she sucks on relentlessly. Even when they are totally empty she gnaws on them in their deflated state. She seriously chews on my nipples like a baseball player, or cow, or something else that chews a lot that I cannot think of because I am delirious.
Of course I couldn’t sleep through this and felt like I had been doing bad cocaine for 17 hours and was trying to come down in a motel room next to a dead donkey and a call girl from Vegas. By 7:00am I got up to flush my head down the toilette. By 8:50 The Munch fell back asleep and stayed that way until 1:00pm while I cried. Then she woke up, and decided she felt fine and practiced walking while I drooled into the pile of blood that my tears had transformed into. Maybe my baby is a total sociopath because she didn’t seem to have any empathy for me at all!