The Power of Tears
January 10, 2015
You never know what may come out of your mouth and how it may impact another person
In my early years as a La Leche Leauge Leader I used to hold meetings in my apartment. One steamy summer afternoon I sat on the floor of my living room folding laundry as Phoebe napped. The buzzer jolted me as I wasn’t expecting anyone. It was the day after the Series Meeting. A voice over the intercom said “I am here for the Meeting.” I buzzed her in.
At my door was a petite new mom with auburn curls and a five-month-old baby asleep in a dark red Baby Bjorn carrier. Beads of sweat speckled her stiff body. Tension permeated her.
“I am sorry but the Meeting was yesterday. Come on in and have a glass of water,” I said.
Her face fell but her body remained at attention.
“Come on in, I‘m just folding laundry. Have a seat.”
“No, I don’t want the baby to wake,” she replied.
She stood in my living room as I sat back down on the floor and went back to the task of folding a load of pinks, greens, oranges and yellows.
“It’s hard being a new mom isn’t it?” I asked.
“Yes.” There was a pause.
Then, “and my own mother wants me to stop breastfeeding. She doesn’t understand me. I just want to cry,” she blurted out.
“Well, then, cry,” I offered.
“I don’t want to cry in front of my baby. I don’t want her to think I am weak,” she was incredulous.
“You know, there is strength in tears,” I said as I folded one of Phoebe’s flowery sundresses.
The floodgates opened. I didn’t know if it was five months of pent of tears or a lifetime.
Her body softened with each sob. Even her curls fell easier around her face. Her baby girl woke up and she sat on my couch and nursed her. At first she was stiff. I touched her shoulder and gently pressed her back into the back cushion. More tears fell.
This woman had traveled from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to the East Village. If you live in New York City you know that is quite a journey on public transportation, particularly for a new mom.
I never saw the woman again or heard from her but I learned the power of simple words that day.
I often cry with the moms with whom I work and I cry in front of my children. I always feel powerful after.