I have always been a highly sensitive individual: I’m easily embarrassed, feel emotions very deeply, and am prone to crying in times of sadness, frustration, and stress. In my thirty years as a Certified Sensitive Sally, I’ve been moved to tears by everything from a loose thread on my precious baby blanket (and no, I wasn’t an actual baby at the time) to a less than perfect employee evaluation, and virtually everything in between. I’ve cried tears of shame over forgotten homework assignments, sobbed while reading Chicken Soup for the Soul, and teared up at the very thought of the Holocaust. I’ve cried after inadvertently hurting someone’s feelings, then cried again years later at the memory of my past transgression. In second grade, I had a meltdown when a classmate described me as a “crybaby” (how smug she must have felt when I immediately proved her right!), and a few years ago I choked up when my new boyfriend tried to convince me to eat a Vietnamese delicacy that struck me as incontrovertibly unpalatable.
Over the years, I’ve learned that while I can’t do much to stop myself from crying at these myriad provocations (it’s truly a curse), I at least have a good grasp on the triggers. I can generally anticipate the types of situations that have the potential to set me off — I knew there was a non-refundable one-way ticket to Cry Town with my name on it within minutes of arriving at that godforsaken Vietnamese restaurant — and I’m rarely surprised by my tears at this point. Every once in a while, though, my tender heart will be blindsided by some fresh variety of emotional terrorism and I find myself in tears over something so ridiculous I never would have thought to file it in my mental Rolodex of potential aggressors. Something, like, say, some sassy backtalk from a cranky toddler.
Yes, I admit it: my two-year-old child brought me to tears last night, and I’m not talking about the “I’m so happy and fulfilled by this wonderful creature that sprung from my loins!” type of crying. Nor am I referring to any other reasonable classification of mommy-tears, like the tears of exhaustion you might find yourself experiencing after spending all night awake with a sick child, or worry-tears you might shed while thinking about their future or something — no, this is far stupider. I literally cried because my son was mean to me and it hurt my feelings.
It was a new low for me, knocking the Vietnamese restaurant debacle out of the top spot for the first time in over nine years.
In my defense (if being moved to tears by a toddler’s bad attitude is at all defensible), I was on day four of what had been a really rough week. I don’t know if Bubba is coming down with something, or if the weather is getting him down (it’s a blistering 62 degrees over here), or if he’s not sleeping well, or if he just woke up on Monday and decided to try something new and act like a little shit, but something has been different this week. He’s cranky, sour, and I can’t seem to do anything right. He whines. He kicks me. He tells me to STOOOOPPPPP when I try to sing. Anything I suggest, be it a snack or a TV show or an activity, is bound to be wrong.
And it hurts.
It feels like a rejection, and it’s leaps and bounds more painful than one of the romantic sort since the chances of me tempering my love for him and not caring what he thinks are precisely zero. I love him with all of my ridiculously delicate heart, and to feel that go unreciprocated after more than two years of mommy-and-me bliss is devastating.
I know logically that this is almost certainly just a phase, one that will probably be in the rear view by the next time I sit down to blog (let us pray), and crying because a toddler didn’t want to play racecars with you is patently absurd. But in the meantime, I am tearfully longing for this:
I can only hope there’s a good tearjerker on Lifetime tonight to redirect my sobs. Cross your fingers.