Reality TV Tears – Thursday June 16th

I have mixed feelings about the televisions at the gym. Some machines have a little built-in TV that has a crappily-functioning touch screen control. I usually end up angrily pressing channel up or down until my finger is sore, then just watch Fox News to help elevate my heart rate. Most machines are set up in front of a long row of TV’s and the least lazy person changes the channels. The rest of us just have to accept what’s on there, or drum up the energy to find the clicker, go through the channels and hope we don’t piss some one else off with our selection.

That’s why I found myself on the treadmill this morning watching the behind the scenes stories of MTV Real Life. It started with a weird sequence of people letting their dogs lick their tongues, shooting heroin, singing into microphones, screaming at their mothers. The usual reality TV montage. Then it cut to a young woman giving birth, then sobbing crying when they handed her the baby. I wasn’t wearing my glasses and could barely read the closed captioning, but I got the gist: The woman was giving her baby up for adoption.

I burst into tears on the treadmill. Tears streamed down my face and I pressed a scratchy gym towel against my eyes. I wasn’t even sure why I was so broken up about it. I felt like shouting at the TV- “Don’t do it! Your heart will ache forever!” I also imagined myself lying dazed in a hospital bed, finally getting to hold a big fat baby against my chest. Then I imagined never getting to hold a healthy full term baby of my own, and watching women around me take it for granted that their bodies could perform. I wondered if I would ever be the recipient of someone’s adopted baby- the beneficiary of a heartbroken mother’s decision.

Maybe I just saw the sublime pain of motherhood in that young woman’s face.

I wiped my face quickly and took deep breaths. Crying is a dangerous activity for me since I lost my baby. Everything spirals out of control so quickly, it’s better if I just keep it buttoned up. I refused to melt into a salty puddle on the gym floor- or worse- short circuit the row of treadmills with an ocean of tears.

Eventually the story changed to a teen-aged sumo wrestler and I recovered. But that little parasite of sadness that a good cry leaves behind stayed with me the rest of the day.

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  1. Marilyn says:

    Your empathy for the birthmother brought tears to my eyes, too. Tears can be healing and make way for new growth just like rain…..They wash away what was and allow for what will be or will become…..That used to happen to me often, too. Unexpected stories that pulled at my heart and a sudden onslought of emotion poured out that I didn’t even realize was close to the surface. It would catch me at unsuspecting times & places.

    The first time it happened to me was in a movie theatre, going to see an animated film that was new at the time, “Finding Nemo”. During the opening scenes of the movie, many fish eggs are destroyed. Harmless, right? My tears soaked my sleeves and I couldn’t find enough kleenex. It does leave you drained. Thankfully, the intensity of those days is much fewer and far between now than it was 7 years ago.; but my emotions are still deeply tucked away and can be stirred to the surface from time to time. I like to think that it makes me aware as a mother of how precious this time is, and howtemporary all things are, which means I don’t take it for granted as I might have before.

    About adoption…. I think that sensitivity you mention towards the birthmom is EXACTLY what would make someone a great adoptive mother…. an awareness of the sacrificial love the mom had for that baby, and the degree of fear or uncertainty about the future she must have had to make such a monumentally difficult decision such as entrusting someone to love & take care of this little being borne of her body after 9 months. It would make that adoptive mother appreciative of where this baby came from and all the hopes/wishes/desires for the future and what could now be for the baby who would be in a new setting.

    A friend of mine fostered all 3 of her elementary age children from birth and they are still with her. She keeps connections with the biological families for the children, sending pictures, writing letters, planning visits. She wants the children to know who their biological families are. She says it this way, “I am so grateful that your birthmum gave me the chance to be a mum, YOUR mum, too! You’re so lucky to have 2 moms & dads to love you!” Just giving you a different way of looking at it…

    You’re doing great!!!!!

  2. Suzy says:

    “the sublime pain of motherhood” such a perfect way of putting it.

  3. Leslie Ann says:

    little parasite of sadness…
    Had a GREAT camping trip, btw.

  4. Leslie Ann says:

    p.s. Are you still wearing 24/7, all-purpose pajamas? Now they can pose as maternity clothes!!! Or, better yet – go SPLURGE on some new, trendy mat. clothes!!!! xoxoxo

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