What the hell is this water leaking from my eyes?

On these pages we don’t normally deal with “emotions” and “feelings” unless it’s something along the lines of… Trixie is upset, and I’m feeling sick from not getting enough sleep.

However, against my better judgement, I feel compelled to address something I discovered recently. Babies screw up your emotional balance. Twice in the past week I’ve found myself completely caught off guard. First, Jenn and I went to see the movie The Incredibles. About halfway through, when the hero’s kids are in danger, I notice a stupid, panicky swelling of fear and love. From an animated movie.

A couple of days after that I was grabbing a slice of pizza and they had the movie I am Sam on the TV. I hadn’t seen this movie before and I was only in there for about 5 minutes. The scene playing was when they were in the courtroom taking away his young daughter. Everyone else is eating pizza; I’m ready to cry.

Now I don’t know if it’s the cumulative lack of sleep that’s battering down my emotional defenses, or if having a daughter has actually rewired part of my brain to respond to saccharine, family-driven events, but it’s annoying. What the hell kind of life is this? The next time I watch Beaches, what, am I going to need a box of kleenex?

This is messed up. And it’s ironic. Guys spend their whole life constructing intricate emotional defenses to the world. But these fortifications all face outward — you forget to watch out for an inside job by a 22-pound saboteur.

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23 Responses to What the hell is this water leaking from my eyes?

  1. Scott says:

    What is sad is that, I too felt myself get all teary-eyed from watching I Am Sam when it came on TV recently.

    And don’t get me started on Finding Nemo.

  2. Tony says:

    Well from one stay at home dad to another I have to share thisÂ… “I never knew being a stay at home dad would make me such a WOMAN!!!!”.
    No really, I understand exactly what you are saying, and it is a beautiful thing. I to have found myself in the similar situation in the past year. (My little girl is the same age as Trixie with in days) The thing that is so bad on my part is that I am 6 foot 5 inch tall and about 265 lbs. Now picture that crying during a rather benign movie or TV show. LOL yep ugly! Do not fight it off, embrace it. Youm Trixie, and your family will be better for it in the long run. Keep up the good work!

  3. Dianne says:

    Well, I’m not a Dad, but I hate to cry. And now that we’ve had our son with us for about 2 months, I feel the same way you do – like a bowl of mush about things that didn’t really used to matter. The other night, I couldn’t even watch “Without a Trace” when they showed the episode of the child whose mother disappeared because when they announced that all the child had said so far was, “I want my mommy,” I couldn’t take it. There was no hiding the huge ball forming in the pit of my stomach and working its way up to my eyes to get out, so I made my husband change the channel.

  4. Laura says:

    I think it’s probably a little of both. When you’re exhausted, that logical part of your brain that tells you ‘it’s just a movie’ and ‘suck it up’ seems to be sleeping whereas the emotional part is wide awake (less thinking, more FEELING). Welcome to a woman’s world – and I am a woman, so I can say that. I can be logical, but mostly, I’m an emotional freak.

    But I never used to get all worked up about baby/kid stuff until I had one of my own. Now the news kills me, as do family flicks and books that have kids in which awful things happen to them – I think it’s because now I imagine the kid in the story/movie/tv show/commercial/news story as my own, and it strikes that chord a little stronger (snaps it in half, more likely). You relate a little differently, IMHO.

  5. jennifer says:

    If the “oh my god, what if this happened to my kid?” tears and emotions have started, whatever you do, DO NOT watch “Pay It Forward”. You will not cry, you will sob like your heart is breaking. And even though I am the mom, I do not like sappy chick flicks or (as my friend likes to call them) “slit your wrist” movies.

  6. DavidNYC says:

    Heh. This reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry wonders what the “salty discharge” coming from his eyes is.

  7. hannah says:

    It is true what you speak. Just another annoying by-product of being a breeder. Fiction gets me less than news stories about kids, but I’ve been known to get teary over the odd episode of ER. Whatever happened to my hard heart? Does it come back after the babies grow older and their teenage years piss you off? We can only hope.

  8. Heather says:

    I know exactly the scene you are talking about, and I had exactly the same reaction.

    (They do a “movies for mommies” thing here in Toronto, and the first one we took Milo to was Fahrenheit 9/11. Heck of a film to see in a theatre full of mummies and babies…)

  9. aidens momma says:

    oh god, i have the urge to cry at the most ackward momments. like today, i was in the grocery store. a christmas song came on about a little boys momma dying and how he wanted these shoes or something for her….and i almost let one leak. or ill be watching aiden playing and find myself almost in tears…

    …parenthood is the nemisis of emotional control in my opinion.

  10. Nina says:

    At least you don’t spurt out crying and don’t know why. I do it all the time. I am a woman so its not that strange but it is embaressing. And I too cry at almost every single movie I see. I cried at lilo and stitch! I mean come on! When I go to the movies I wait until everyone is gone and then me and my fiance leave thru the back doors. I don’t want people to see my swollen eyes and runny nose. My fiance thinks its terribly funny. But its not just woman hormones that make me such a sap, I have chemical embalances and I guess thats why I cry for no reason some times. But I wont get too detailed in all that. Just know that I find it embarressing too.

  11. Beth says:

    My oldest daughter is 4 and I still am a complete sap. I mean, I cry during dog food commercials. And I cannot watch the local news anymore. The terrible child tragedy stories haunt me for months, years even. I’m told that eventually you get toughened up, and that seeing bad things happen to kids near the age of your own kids always hurts the most. I believe the part about kids near the age of my kids, but I really doubt I’ll ever be able to stand the sad stuff. My husband is a little tougher than me, but nowhere near as tough as he was.

  12. Rozanne says:

    You’re right–so right. I now understand why my mother was so overprotective. I feel the same way about my son.

  13. schaff says:

    This is a new low in the cynical exploitation of your baby. I know you are desperate for approval from the blog-reading-parent demographic, but this new post about parenthood bringing you “emotions” and “feelings” is a lowdown trick even for a human-interest wire story such as yourself.

    First Anne Geddes-inspired photographs, and now crying at movies? I know for a fact that the only thing you get misty about is Data Analysis for Politics and Policy.

    I’m sorry to reveal the truth here for all to see, but the fact is you are playing, if not with fire, then with salty, salty ice.

  14. FrumDad says:

    Not much to say but “me too.”

  15. christy says:

    Oh yeah – once you have a baby, the baby-related tragedy stories just start coming out of the woodwork. Like, when I was about 7 months pregnant and on ER Carter and his girlfriend lost their baby at 7 months. It was as if the hormone gods were just wanting me to spend a good three hours in bed sobbing to myself. Nice.

    Before I came to my senses, I was ready to go on a total TV boycott because it seemed every show I watched had to do with someone’s baby or child dying in a horrible way. DId anyone see the episode of Without a Trace when the woman accidentally smothered her baby while nursing her? I mean c’mon people – that sent me into a total tailspin. I think my husband thought I was having a total mental breakdown.

  16. Kristian's mom says:

    Isn’t it amazing how nature works? Like a switch that gets turned on the second you have your own child. A friend sent me a beautiful poem called “Before I was a Mom”. I loved it so much I printed it in color and put it up in my son’s room (he is 14 months old).
    Here is a small excerpt:

    “Before I was a mom I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn’t stop the hurt…
    Before I was a mom I didn’t know the feeling of having my heart outside my body…
    Before I was a mom I didn’t know that something so small could make me feel so important…
    Before I was a mom I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay…
    I had never known the warmth,
    the joy,
    the heartache,
    the wonder,
    or the satisfaction of being a mom.
    I didn’t know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a mom.”

    My husband agrees when I say that the word ‘mom’ can be easily swapped for the words ‘dad’ and ‘parent’.

    Enjoy every minute!!!
    Kristian’s mom

  17. Nina says:

    don’t watch “man on fire” Its a good movie but I cried so much, and I hear its even worse if you have a child of your own.

  18. John says:

    Funny; I had the same exact reaction to The Incredibles. Even though my brainy literary self knew the “I can’t do this alone” line was cheesy, the Dad part of me got all misty.

  19. Maddie's Mom says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah…I’m a big puddle all the time, too. What impresses me is that you and Jenn made time to go to the movies!

  20. fred says:

    Crying occasionally is good for you; it washes out the baby food stuck to your tear ducts. And I can’t think of a better movie to do it at than I am Sam. Sniffle. However, I don’t recommend crying on pizza: it doubles the blood-pressure raising value of the slice.

  21. Mark says:

    It’s the dreaded daddy-daughter emotional imbalance.

    I still get even after years of teen-shock therapy from my kid.

    I can think about the day I’ll have to “give her hand in marriage” and ball like baby who just had his “paci” taken away.

  22. Ashley says:

    if you’re reluctant to cut trixie’s hair, you can try those little rubber bands, the plastic-y ones that don’t rip out your hair or anything. Put it in right and it won’t come out all day. It takes longer than a couple weeks to master, but hey- it’s better than the barrette.

  23. Landon's Dad says:

    i totally understand, if in the morning on my way to work the wrong song plays on the radio i start blubbering like my 13 month old when he wakes up from a bad dream,then i get to work today and stumble across your blog, look at pictures, read stories, and start tearing up again, but that’s just a reminder of how much that little guy means to me and helps me get through each day, thank you.