Overtired, overstressed, overworked, undernourished, underassisted people make crappy parents.
Women are human. Having children does not magically transform them into pillars of perfection. They cannot be everywhere at once or fix every problem or right every wrong. They can only do the best they can. Expecting them to be superhuman, endlessly nurturing, and acutely attuned to everyone else's needs but their own 24 hours a day is totally absurd, and very cruel.
Few have such high standards for fathers. But when talking about mothers, everyone's got a reason they don't measure up, aren't doing enough, are doing too much, are doing everything wrong, aren't doing enough wrong, whatever. Anyone else read Perfect Madness, Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety? If you haven't, perhaps you should. It aroused more than a little sympathy and shame in me for mothers and my past harsh judgement of some, including my own.
Small children cry because they cannot communicate their needs in any other way. Not because they're being traumatized (unless something truly untoward is taking place). They're just trying to tell us something. If we're paying attention (and capable of doing so adequately because our needs are being met as well), we can accurately dechipher their requests and fulfill them. When possible.
We all know there are times when it is simply not possible to either fully understand the source of the crying, or to respond to it promptly. There are errands to be done, other children to be cared for, other adults to be cared for, clothes to wash, phones to answer, term papers to write, bills to be paid, food to be eaten, showers to be taken, sleep to be slept...in other words, life to be lived.
Life is not always pleasant, convenient, or conducive to immediate gratification of the wants and needs of others or ourselves. Sometimes we are sick, sometimes we are sad, sometimes we are frustrated, sometimes we are irritable, sometimes we are absolutely completely thoroughly utterly worn out and need 20 stinkin' minutes to regroup and resume. This is human. Women are human. Children are human. We are all human.
I for one do not think it is unreasonable for a child to cry for a few moments. Nor do I think it damaging. It's simply life. Sometimes parents have to put their needs/wants on standby, sometimes children do, sometimes we must compromise.
I'm rambling because I'M overtired, but I hope I'm getting my point across. Please everyone stop with the judgements and harshness. It's much of what makes being a parent, particularly being a mother, so hard. The unrelenting and uncompassionate opinions/insults of others constantly torturing our consciences and making us feel like failures benefits no one, LEAST of all our children. We should all do our best to help and encourage one another, not shame and condemn. If a mom's choice is to either get up for the 19th time in 2 hours to futilely attempt to comfort a screaming infant when she herself hasn't slept, ate, or bathed in weeks or to try and get some desperately needed rest and attend to the baby when she is physically, mentally, and emotionally able to do so effectively, I vote the latter, every time. The baby will be distressed, but as it's needs have largely been met, the priority in the situation goes to the mother (or father, or both). We have needs too, and if they aren't being met, all involved will eventually suffer.
A little more understanding, a little less condemnation.