Motherhood Has Turned Me Into A Sentimental Mess

by Wendy Wisner
sentimental mom
nyvltova / iStock

I’m not one to cry at the movies or at sappy commercials. But since I’ve become a mom, I turn into a sloppy, salty, sentimental mess at the drop of a hat.

Just today, I was jogging, and the road was blocked off by construction. There, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a massive bulldozer with its lights on. On instinct, I thought to get out my phone to snap a picture for my toddler, but as soon as the thought came into my head, I realized that he isn’t that into cars and trucks anymore. Gosh, that obsession ended months ago. As I ran past the bright yellow bulldozer, tears stung my eyes. The part of his childhood where every vehicle we pass is a cause for celebration is done. Gone. Just like that.

When I came home, I got an email from the department of education. I have been on their pre-K information list since my first child started school, and every year around this time, I get an email about registration. The email will say something like, “Any child born in (insert year) is eligible to register.” Since my second child was born, all of those years have felt very far away—until today, when the subject line of the email contained my little guy’s birth year: 2012. How on earth is it possible that my baby is ready to register for school? As you can guess, the tears promptly started flowing. Yep, I lost it from an automated email.

There are too many to count, but here are a few more random things that bring big, dumb tears to my eyes:

– I get choked up when my kids find little bugs on the sidewalk and ask me to pick them up and carefully carry them home.

– I want to cry when my kids stop using their baby words. I really loved the way my second child said lemonade (“lemalade”) and the way my first child said yogurt (“yo-yurt”). Can’t they just talk like that forever?

– Every birthday party destroys me, and it doesn’t matter if it’s my kid’s party or not. I’m a sucker for the moment kids blow out their birthday candles. I don’t even have to know the kid, seriously.

– School plays. I didn’t expect to feel much besides embarrassment when my child stood up on a stage in a brown paper bag dressed up as a turkey, but oh my goodness, the pride and terror of watching your kid awkwardly prance around on a stage is ridiculous.

– Old photos. Sometimes I don’t open the Timehop app simply because I can’t handle it. Finding pictures of my kids—even if they’re blurry or just silly—is too much. Just one year before, their faces looked so different, their bodies so much smaller. And then you catch a glimpse of the Play-Doh they were decimating, the messy bowl of mac and cheese they were spilling everywhere, and you realize that nothing you were worried about then really mattered because all you want is for them to be that little again. Wahhhh! Never grow up, kids. Ever.

– Any smell that reminds me of their babyhood can make me well up. I was recently at the grocery store, and some kid must have had the same diaper cream my kids used, because I was a mess! Diaper cream—I know—ewwwww. But it smelled like my newborn, and I was an emotional wreck.

– I cry when they reach a milestone, even if it was something I was impatient for them to reach. I will admit that I got a little sentimental when I threw out the last diaper. And I was definitely sad each time my kids slept through the night for the first time (and I obsessively checked on them to make sure they were still breathing!).

– The first snowfall of the year. Watching autumn leaves slowly swirl to the ground as they fall. Basically, seeing the world through my children’s eyes makes everything feel new again, and so very beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes.

When I held my screaming newborn in my arms for the first time, I didn’t expect there to be quite so many seemingly unimportant moments that would shatter me—and that they would just keep coming, no matter how old my kids got, or how experienced a parent I became. The littlest things break me, and sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with me. But then I realize that I’m just a mom, and these kids are the most important thing in the world to me.

So I’m going to let myself feel all the feels, and cry like a baby over the silliest things. I have a feeling that as my kids get older, I will start to embarrass them, but that’s just how it’s going to be. And if my kids want me to stop it with all the sentimental stuff, they’ll just have to stop growing up. OK, kids? That would actually be very much appreciated.