After my son was born, I watched a video that messed me up. It was just a clip of some middle schoolers playing Led Zeppelin songs on the xylophone, but when I watched it I lost it.
“What's wrong?” my husband asked.
“These kids!” I wailed, tears streaming down my face. “They're somebody’s babies! Someone worried about them and birthed them and raised them and now they're playing Zeppelin on the xylophoooooooooone!!!” My husband just smiled and backed slowly out of the room. He knew there are some totally normal things all postpartum moms cry about, that often make no sense to anybody else.
To be clear and completely fair, it's never the postpartum woman's fault. Between all the fluctuating hormones, the sleeplessness, the frequent hunger, and the very recent reminder of just how precious life is, it's only natural that postpartum moms would perceptually be either on the brink of collapsing in tears of hormonal frustration, or hypersensitive to the beauty and meaning in every damn little thing.
So if you've recently had a baby, and you find you can't even turn on the TV without crying, don't worry. That's totally normal. Maybe it's not normal for everybody, but it's definitely normal for the amazing club of other postpartum moms you've just joined; a club full of women who carry tissues everywhere, ‘cause you never know when a butterfly might flap its wings near you and remind you of the beautiful, too-tenuous connection between all living things, or when any of the following situations will totally set you off:
Why are commercials so emotional these days? Between the diaper commercials with moms making promises to their new babies, dads making their pets look like stuffed animals for their scared kids, and Sarah McLachlan singing all over some sad, abused, homeless dogs, turning on the TV is a dangerous proposition for postpartum moms who want a momentary reprieve from crying over everything.
Spilled Breast Milk
Really Adorable Animals On The Internet
"Tiny turtle eating a strawberry, you just get me. You're so tiny and cute and are trying so hard to eat this fruit that's basically the same size you are and we're both trying so hard to do simple things in this world and who is in here chopping onions?!"
Trying To Get Dressed In The Morning
Your maternity clothes are too big. Your old clothes are too small, or just don't fit in other ways. You're probably sore somewhere, and you feel like an alien in your own body. Totally understandable time to start singing the Postpartum Mama in the Mirror blues.
When Your Baby Outgrows Their First Set Of Clothes
When your baby becomes too big for their tiniest clothes, things just feel way too real. You start to realize what people mean when they tell you that "it all goes by so fast!" and you question whether you were appreciating it enough. Either way, your baby is now one set of clothes closer to being a teenager who basically has no time for you. #sadface
When You’re Juggling Too Many Things And Something Falls Or Breaks
When you have a baby, errands that include your car (and thus, the car seat) are really involved, which means you'll be super tempted to try to bring everything from the car or front door in one trip. Inevitably, things will be dropped, and tears will be shed, because those errands probably already required feats of coordination and strength that called on all your last nerves, and you've got nothing left.
When You Can’t Figure Out How To Set Up/Use Some Newfangled Baby Equipment
Or oldfangled (is "oldfangled" a word?) in the case of woven baby wraps and carriers. Can anybody explain why you basically need an engineering degree just to figure out all the stuff you need to have a safe place for your baby to sit or sleep on a daily basis? Tears of frustration in three, two...
When Their Nap Schedule Changes
So many things revolve around having some idea when your kid is going to sleep, including your own sleep( if you're actually among the precious few who manage to sleep when the baby sleeps). So when they don't nap when you expect them to? When they won't nap when you expect them to? Tissues, now and forever. For their cranky behinds and yours.
When Their Food Schedule Changes
Especially if it's a growth spurt that means they need to eat more, and you're breastfeeding. (This is where knowing how to nurse and babywear really comes in handy.) Either way, they have a lot of nerve changing up your expectations when you've just hit your stride.
When Your Partner Has To Go Out Of Town
"So, what, I have to like, go out of my way and try to interact with another adult for the next few days? Do I even know any other adults anymore?" Weep, weep, weep.
When You Finally Get To Drink Your Coffee Or Tea And It’s Cold
Is it so much to ask that the baby not need a diaper, a total change of clothes, and a feed the literal minute your drink is ready? (Apparently, yes, it is too much to ask.)
When People Are Unexpectedly Nice To You
Did someone just do you an unexpected favor, or come through for your and/or your kid on a really tough day, or pay for your order at the coffee shop, or something? Cue all the tears.
(Bonus tissues for you if you cap the moment by oversharing all your current struggles in the course of thanking them, between shaking, full-body sobs.)
Life In General
At some point in every postpartum mom’s life, there will be at least one moment where you’re tired, you're sore, nothing is going right, the kid starts yelling, and it will just all be too much. Just chalk it up to the game, mama, and keep your head up. It’s all worth it in the end, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.