One side effect of motherhood that I did not expect is how emotional it’s made me. I have always been a bit on the stoic side. I hate the vulnerability I feel when others see my emotions, so I learned over the years to stuff them down. Eventually, I stopped feeling them quite so much — with a few exceptions, of course. (Obviously, loss hurts me…I’m not Spock, for pete’s sake.) But since I had kids, I am overwhelmed by emotion.
Towards my children, it makes sense. Regarding issues that affect children in general, I understand. That I bawled my eyes out at Sarah’s Key is not shocking; it’s a beautifully written piece about a horrific period in history, specifically centering on tragedy involving small children, which I read while the severely sleep-deprived mother of a newborn. (It’s a wonder I was able to finish the book, to be honest. I’ve put books down for less since then.)
But it’s more than that. I cry at NCIS episodes. Stupid memes on Facebook. The thought of bad things happening to anyone, ever. Stuff that made me cry before I had kids — Six Feet Under, say, or Hearts in Atlantis*? I can’t even.
A friend of mine described having a child as having her heart outside of her body, walking and talking and vulnerable. And she is not wrong. But that’s not the whole of it. I feel like a pulsing wound sometimes, and every bit of grit or puff of air is more than I can bear.
Some of it, I’m sure, is hormonal. It doesn’t take a PhD to see the effect having two children has had on me hormonally. (For good or ill…and some of it is extremely good. The lack of endometriosis symptoms is enough to keep me breastfeeding until Kai decides to stop.) But I don’t think it’s all hormonal.
I can’t say I am 100% comfortable with this new aspect of myself, but perhaps it will serve me in the long run. I imagine an emotional mother is a better parent than a stoic one.
Not all emotions are bad.
*The book, of course.