It’s Not Just Hormones!

I’ve never been a fan of the use of “hormones” as an excuse for… well, anything. It always seems like a cop-out—blaming nature for behavior that was surely controllable. And yet I was tempted to blame hormones when I realized that I had become what I’d never wanted to be: emotional.

Growing up, I didn’t cry much. Sure, if I skinned my knee pretty bad a few tears might appear, and if it was an emotional pain, I might have to blink back some moisture. But if it wasn’t happening to me, chances are my eyes were completely dry. Heck, I watched E.T. without crying a bit!

But something changed after I had SP. Suddenly EVERYTHING made me cry, whether it was something happy or sad. And it didn’t have to be an extreme emotion either. Every time I saw the Johnson and Johnson commercial “Boys Night Out” (Short black and white ad that’s just a scene of a dad and his two boys playing with a little frog… sniff!) my eyes instantly well up.

Now admittedly, hormones probably were a legitimate factor the first year or so after I gave birth. But I still have the same reaction to that commercial to this day, and I must have seen it 50 times by now.

I realized things had truly changed, and got a clue as to why, one day when I was reading Time magazine’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina. I knew Katrina was a huge disaster that had impacted a lot of people in very serious ways, but it didn’t seem real to me yet. And then I looked at a picture of a young woman holding her 9-month old baby and boarding a helicopter to be evacuated, and I just lost it. My eyes didn’t just well up; tears started actually rolling down my cheeks. I couldn’t even read the whole caption before my vision got too blurry.

It was as if the full impact of the whole disaster hit me at once. And I knew then that it wasn’t just hormones. It was actually having a child. All I could think about, when I looked at that picture, was ‘what if that was me and SP’? I could imagine facing such hardships on my own, and was confident I’d survive just fine. But when I imagined SP having to go through such horrible things, that confidence disappeared. She wasn’t old enough or big enough to keep herself safe, physically or emotionally. She was counting on me to do that for her. And suddenly, I had so much more to lose.

SP is 5 now, and I’m still fairly weepy. When I see something sad—fictional or non—deep down I’m sure I’m thinking about what it would be like for SP to go through that, to face such pain or fear. But it’s the same when I see something happy: how wonderful it will be for SP to experience such love and joy. It’s like I have twice the emotions now: some for myself, and a whole extra batch for her.

I’ve come to terms with being one of the weepy women. And don’t worry. I won’t ever blame hormones.

– RBVH

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    • Beth
    • September 12th, 2009

    Thank you for sharing this! I’ve had the great experience of living in another country- one that is incredibly open about sharing emotion, and it had a similar effect on my life. For me, my experience was one that led me to feel closer to humanity… and unlearning cultural norms of not expressing emotion. I can only imagine and hope that having a child is another ‘connector’ to humanity.

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