The Phantom Cry

I thought it was just me, but I found out it was you too.

Yesterday I took a chance and mentioned “The Phantom Cry” and you said you heard it too. Sometimes it disguises itself as a cough or just a funny sound that must be investigated, but it is a real phenomenon that is causing sleep disruptions for parents everywhere.

Night time is not the only time the cry will present itself, although hands down the most frequent. Sometimes you hear it during the day. Working in your kitchen, running a vacuum or inside a store, you hear it. Calling you, pleading with you and causing you to get up to run to your child’s aide. Sleep finally claiming you, body relaxed and then you hear the beckon of a little one. For a moment you question its validity.

Was that my child or the house settling?

Was that a cough or did a bed spring sigh?

I don’t think that’s what that was, but it could have been.

Perhaps I will just get back to what I was doing.

I better go check.

Just in case.

The child is probably asleep and I’ll just disturb their sleep.

I still better go check.

I won’t be able to go back to sleep if I don’t.

You check and see a sound asleep child. Smiling, acknowledging “The Phantom Cry”; you turn to leave the room. Proud of yourself for checking, but knowing you were just a victim to “The Phantom Cry”; you shake your head and promptly trip over a toy left in the center of the floor. Favoring the toe, you hop and lose your balance falling into the toy chest.


The Phantom Cry is now real. Good job, momma. Yet, for all the times it wasn’t real…where you questioned your sanity and your hearing…you aren’t alone. All of us parents are casualties of “The Phantom Cry”.

I also found out that you casually rock back and forth in a grocery line cradling a jug of milk or loaf of bread and your house is also missing most table spoons and socks disappear with no explanation.

Have you experienced “The Phantom Cry”? What other phenomenons do you think are universal of parents?

Categories: Uncategorized

14 replies

  1. My daughter is long on her own. But at random times I still hear “Mom!”And any child hollering mom or mommy causes my head to pop up. I suppose someone hollering gramma is next.

  2. I so relate with all of those things! Especially the phantom cry! I hear it in my head sometimes and think I am nuts lol I always say that my kid's cries are ingrained in my brain!

  3. I am totally in this camp!Just last night…or should I say this morning…I was awakened by a pleading cry from my 8 yr old daughter who sleeps across the house…I jumped up and blindly ran across the house…literally blind, since I didn't waste time putting my glasses on! As I burst into her bedroom to see what was wrong, there she was…sleeping soundly in a little lump in the middle of her bed…the phantom cry. It get's all of us!It's funny you said you hear it when you vacuum…I totally thought that was just me!

  4. I have totally heard the phantom cry and my husband thinks it is a little nuts.

  5. I experience the phantom cry all the time! My bathroom fan constantly makes me think I am hearing my baby cry – it's spooky!

  6. It is real.For sure, it is real.I don't hear it all that often now that my Cherubs are a bit older.But last night? I spent an hour snuggling with The Small One in his bed because of The Phantom Cry.It was not an altogether bad thing. 🙂

  7. LOL! It exists here in my house too. It's a phenomenon sweeping the nation!

  8. Oh yeah! I hear the phantom cry every night at the same time … 3:30 am! I'm glad to know I'm not going crazy! Thanks for posting about this.

  9. This is where my slight obsessive/compulsive tendencies serve me well. I count to thirty waiting for another sound before I get up to investigate. I like to count, so it works for me. 😉

  10. I really, really believed I was the only mom in the world who heard the Phantom Cry while vacuuming. Every time I vacuum I hear my child. Unfortunately, hubs says it's not a good enough reason to get a new vacuum.

  11. Girlfriend, my DH does not understand this! I hear my baby's voice in the sound of our heater running, in the sound of my cats fighting, the bathroom vent.I'm buying a video monitor before this next one is born.

  12. what's really sad is that once I'm asleep, I hear practically nothing. My hubs is the one who hears all cries, phantom and not after 9:30pm at our house…BUT when I'm awake, living in my space, I do, I heart just the slightest sqeak and I go to them, or yell in, “WHAT THE HE** is the matter now?” LOL When they were smaller, I was more atuned, but even now, I sense the smallest shift in their meeeewing or talking, I know when to go to them. Phantom or not. I guess that FINALLY makes me a mom. xo

  13. Last night all three boys were in bed and I was finally shoving spoonfuls of my prepackaged chocolate ice cream with the peanut butter ribbon from Baskin' Robbins into my mouth when I heard it. It sounded like a TV was on somewhere. We only have two TVs and I was in front of one of them and it was off. With bowl in hand I went to the son's door where the only other TV in the house is and put my ear to it. Humph. It wasn't on. My ass got comfy again and I continued to eat but that damn sound kept me from truly enjoying it. I wonder if it's the fact that I waited till all three of them were in bed before I took out the tasty treat.

  14. I have heard it more than once. As time has passed and the children have grown older I have gotten better about waiting to hear it a second time.But there are still plenty of moments where I go chasing after that phantom you mentioned.

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