“A Quarter of Working Moms Cry Once a Week, But There are Solutions.” That’s how the Huffington Post headline read. The story intrigued me. How can “working moms cry” be a news story? I wondered.
You see, I served a little hard time as a working mom. I cried a lot then. So, I wasn’t surprised by the premise.
During my working mom days, I cried as I wondered if it was stress from my job that was keeping my milk weak and my baby’s weight from increasing. I cried when I doubted my ability to fake it through an important meeting after being awake all night with a sick infant. And, I cried every time I caught a glimpse of our dirty countertops and empty pantry. They screamed at me a cruel reminder, “You don’t have what it takes to do it all.”
Check. It’s really easy for me to believe that one-fourth of working moms cry every week.
But, now that I’m a mostly stay-at-home mom, I know my tear production hasn’t slowed down. No, rather, I’d venture to bet that working moms aren’t alone in the crying game. I think most moms cry (or feel like crying.) A lot.
It’s not because they are emotionally unstable. It’s not hormones and a poor diet. Neither is it because they can’t figure out how to make homemade holiday decor while caring for a newborn. It’s much simpler than that.
Moms cry because being someone’s mother is a really hard job in and of itself.
Motherhood starts out hard with this little squirmy, messy, hungry baby that can’t clearly communicate what he needs. Then, it gets even harder in the middle with these preschool and school-age children who have endless questions, energy, and capacity to push your buttons. And, then, (I’ve heard though not experienced), mothering enters a grand finale of difficulty as we help teens navigate messy relationships, prepare for adulthood, and, quite neurotically, try to prevent them from making any of the same mistakes we did.
(Seriously… just reading that progression is enough to make me sob right now.)
Motherhood provides an endless list of opportunities to cry. Daily.
But, who says crying is a problem? Crying isn’t bad. No, it’s a good thing. Crying cleanses the toxins from our systems so that we can better deal with stress. Emoting eyes produce a healthy and natural response to pain, hurt, and overwhelm. Really, I’m not sure how “moms cry” is any kind of news-worthy discovery. There should be no stigma attached to shedding tears.
In fact, I just assumed crying came with the title of “mom.” Even on the official first day of my motherhood journey–although I couldn’t yet see him on the other side of the privacy curtain during my c-section–I heard that loud, “Waaaaaah,” and lost it. The tears flowed. I’d like to say they were tears of joy. But, I was way too emotionally wrecked by the moment to be happy. Wow. This is really happening. I am now someone’s mother. How in the world am I going to do this? What am I going to do with this little guy?
As he grew, I continued my weepy ways. He smiled for the first time. I cried. He wouldn’t sleep for the third day in a row. I cried. He refused to breastfeed on the day I had chosen to be his last. I cried. He moved into a big boy bed with seemingly no hidden longing for his crib. I cried, again.
I cried when I left for the hospital to give birth to his sister–knowing life would never be the same for him again. Likewise, I cried on each successive trip to the hospital that yielded the same results–more siblings for them to adjust too.
This week marks my eighth year of motherhood. The waterworks still come and go. They can be triggered by something as big as losing my temper (and feeling guilty about it) or by something as small as frustration over accidentally pouring the spaghetti down the drain because the strainer lid wasn’t attached correctly. I’ve cried because I didn’t think I was doing enough. And, I’ve cried because I knew I was doing too much.
While I appreciated the article’s helpful suggestions about being realistic about dinner and scaling back the holidays, I feel these are hardly “solutions” for a mom who cries. See, I don’t think the mom who cries needs solutions.
I think she needs a hug.
She knows she can order take-out (again), hire someone to clean the house, and get away with a completely un-Pinterest-worthy Christmas. She’s not confused over how much she should be doing. She’s not begging for the answer to an impossible test question.
What the mom who cries needs instead is what every mom needs: to know she’s not alone. To know that all moms struggle. She needs to feel like she’s supported in her journey. (That’s one important reason why moms should subscribe to blogs like this one and be an active part in a community of other moms.)
The mom who cries does so because she cares. A lot. And, in all of that care, she wonders if she is doing enough, being enough, offering enough of herself for her family. She’s read the right answers–that of course, she is–but that seems too trite, too simple to be true. “Everyone can’t be enough,” she renounces to herself and then doubts which side of that enough line she falls on.
And, to that doubt in her heart, there’s only one soothing sentiment: Crying is just a normal part of being a mom.