Pacifiers Aren't Just For Babies –

Pacifiers Aren’t Just For Babies


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Two weeks ago while on vacation, someone in her father’s family told my daughter about the Pacifier Fairy. I don’t know who told her of this mythical creature because I was not there and her father and I don’t speak, but my daughter came home eager to follow the made-up rules which someone shared about this fairy. The Pacifier Fairy supposedly comes to your home while you sleep (how original) and takes your pacifiers. She then flits away and gives them to labor and delivery nurses, who bestow them upon newborn babies.

It would appear that the Pacifier Fairy is something parents have devised to help older children transition from dependence on pacifiers by urging them to not be “babies” anymore while also allowing them to believe they are committing a charitable act, albeit an inauthentic one. My daughter, now 6, only used a pacifier from about ages 1 to 2, and she gave it up without much of a fight. We had a few leftover pacifiers from babyhood that have languished in a drawer for four years, though. I kept them thinking she might want to use them to play with her dolls one day. A few weeks ago, she gave one to her 3-year-old cousin visiting from another state when her father realized he had forgotten to pack one. Now, she wanted to give the rest to the Pacifier Fairy.

In my world, I struggle every day to protect my children from the hostility between their parents, to make sure they aren’t the losers in this seemingly endless firefight between their father and me. I am also managing the shock of a non-life-threatening diagnosis I was not expecting, as well as the recent disappointing end to a promising relationship. From all this, I’m feeling the instinct to recoil as the sting of vulnerability and insecurity pulls me in, like a small soft thing retreating into its hard shell.

While all this swirls and mixes into the flotsam and jetsam of my normal day, I can’t help but ask, Why? I was made to ask why. So were you. So were we all. As humans, we are hardwired to pull together the available data and create some organization out of the chaos. It’s how our brains have evolved, and it’s an impossible task, indeed. So a dozen times a day, without thinking, I ask. And yet, I know the why of all this doesn’t matter at all, because the why doesn’t exist in any meaningful way I can comprehend.

In the words of Bhagavad Gita, “You will never untangle the circumstances that brought you to this moment.” This is the time, understandably, when people turn toward faith and religion and addiction. The fear of the unknown, the weight of a chaotic world, has a powerful gravitational pull toward anything which helps lift that burden. It’s tempting to throw my hat in that ring and say, “Well, it was(n’t) meant to be,” or “It’s in God’s hands,” or “Screw this, I’m having a drink.” These are all things I’ve done to pacify this confusing, barbaric pain—a pain that only amplifies in its complexities year after year.

My daughter set out her three remaining pacifiers last week. Clearly, she does not need them anymore, and I do not need to make up a story so she feels better about not needing something only “babies” need. But why is that so bad, anyway? We all want something to help soothe us during the sometimes scary darkness. I want a pacifier too sometimes. But my daughter was giving her pacifiers away not out of shame, but out of love. She wanted to help the babies at the hospital. It was her only motivation, because there was no promise of a reward, just the satisfaction of having given what she could to help another less capable. She is a giver, that girl. She is, herself, a pacifier. A peacemaker. And this alone soothes my weary soul.