I posted on my Facebook account a few days ago that I couldn’t look worse than when yawning whilst ugly crying. I posted it because I’d laughed at myself while doing so and thought it was a relatable thing since we all have big feelings sometimes and the yawning was very indicative of my current status as both an entrepreneur and a mom. What surprised me was how many people reached out to me concerned about my crying. My close friends called or texted to check in, which seemed normal, but I also had people I rarely speak to reach out. I appreciated their genuine thoughtfulness and concern for my wellbeing. But I hadn’t considered that sharing that I have feelings would be cause for alarm.
NEWSFLASH: we all feel things. And if we allow ourselves to, we feel LOTS of things. From the sensations you experience in your body to the moods you go through in any given moment, as humans, we’re always FEELING. In the last two months, I’ve had an enormous amount of stressful events happening, and I was feeling overwhelmed. Ugly crying allowed me to process those feelings and I felt so refreshed after I worked through it all.
But most of the time we try to quiet our feelings, and that starts very early on in life. Your baby cries, and you shush and bounce him to stop him crying. Why not let him feel his sadness or frustration rather than silencing him? Is he really happy just because he stops crying, or have you simply stopped his communication? (Please do not mistake this for my saying you should simply let your child “cry it out”; on the contrary, I support addressing and accepting your child’s feelings and helping them work through them rather than interrupting their process or ignoring their feelings altogether.)
So if that’s how we initiate our association with feelings at a very young age, is it any wonder that when we reach adulthood, we get concerned when other people are having actual feelings that are not being subdued by themselves or others?
I love the RIE approach to caring for infants: treat them as a whole person, accept their feelings, and communicate openly with them. This works quite well for adults, too. But in order for us to accept another’s feelings, we need to be comfortable with our own.
Know this, mamas: you will feel all of the things during your labor and birth. The more comfortable you are with accepting some of your more uncomfortable feelings, the more prepared for labor, birth, and motherhood you’ll be.
(To really master the skill of communicating openly about feelings and helping others to do the same, I highly recommend the book Nonviolent Communication by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It is a wonderful and life-changing book when applied to everyday life!)
Feeling grateful for this community,
Lindsay Mumma, DC