Crying will get you far in life, especially as a woman.
There. I opened my first blog with a general sexist stereotype. But… it’s true. No debating it.
- Caught going 55 in a 30? “But officer (sniff), I just broke up with my boyfriend.” No ticket.
- In trouble for missing a deadline at the office? “Oh, bossman (tear), I’m just so overwhelmed with my workload right now.” A raise.
- Just having a rough time of the month and there’s no one else to take it out on but your husband? “Honey, I just (sniff, gulp, tear) need you to understand me better!” A hug, a dozen roses, and most likely a full bed to yourself for a night.
Really, it’s amazing where tears and drama can get you in this world. And, I shamelessly utilize this method whenever convenient or beneficial. I’ve never had a hard time with it. I’ve never thought of myself as pathetic or needy. As it is with most things in life, if used sparingly, it proves to be quite advantageous. Nearly 30 years of playing the waterworks card and I’ve only recently discovered the pain and guilt it could potentially cause others. Add it to the list of lessons motherhood has taught me. A lesson in plain and simple GUILT. And, boy, does it hurt.
As the mother of a 9-month old boy, I have already heard a good chunk of guilt-ridden wails. I’ve seen countless scrunched-up faces of displeasure. I’ve experienced numerous sleepless nights of nursery-filled crocodile tears. And, each of these happenings causes one of two things:
- My mothering skills are strengthened in a way that will allow me to withstand anything and love uncontrollably, all while thickening my shell of protection against naivete and bullshit. OR
- My heart bursts into a blistering, blathering cesspool of self-condemnation and the rest of my body follows suit shortly thereafter.
99.99% of the time, I experience the latter. And, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Being maternal can be a curse. It can cause you to turn into an irrational, overprotective crazy person. You just want the best for you child, but somewhere along the way you become Piper Laurie in “Carrie.” Guilt and over-protection will do that to a person. One minute, you’re simply wishing for your daughter to be careful at her prom. The next, she’s locked in a closet screaming anti-religious mantras hiding her dirty pillows from the world (if you haven’t seen “Carrie,” DO IT!).
Tonight, I listened to Coen cry for 45 minutes. We know he isn’t hurt or sick, but he is playing us to come pick him up and hold him. We know this from many, MANY nights of trial and error. He cries to get what he wants. He’s a smart kid. And, who am I to judge? I am guilty of the same crime. The thing I’m learning is that you need to pick your battles. That is important in the game of parenting. They will win some, you will win some. (They will probably win more, but overall, you need to be selective.) So, tonight, I sat up in bed and cried to Nate (so the lucky guy got to deal with 2 bawling babies simultaneously). I cried out of GUILT. I cried because the mother in me wanted to go pick him up and hold him close to my chest until he settled down. I cried. And I cried. And I cried.
Finally, he went back to sleep, and I was able to think clearly again. I remembered that we let him cry so he can learn to self-soothe. I recalled all the books and articles that firmly state this is hard, but necessary. I heard the voice of our pediatrician saying that it’s normal to feel pain, but you are feeling much worse than baby and he will still smile at you in the morning. OK. As long as he doesn’t create an escape rope made of crib sheets and run away overnight, I think I’m going to be fine. And, in the long run, so will he. But, in the moment, those tears are like a knife to the heart.
I will try to remember this feeling next time I get pulled over by the Twin Cities fuzz. And maybe, just maybe, I will suck up my 15-mph surplus without a choked-up girly guilt-trip. However, if the price of the ticket is more like a samurai sword to the heart, screw it. I’m cryin’.
Now, as a sidenote, check out the little stinker we’re raising! The first 5 seconds remind me of his mother…