“Grace cries every time the wind blows.”
That was a common refrain during my childhood, usually delivered with an affectionate eye-roll as my amazing, overworked mom would dismiss another fresh wave of my tears. I don’t fault her for saying it; my dad did, too, as did my brothers, since I did cry a lot. I was a tearful, sensitive kid, and it didn’t take much to set me off. Once, when I was twelve, my older brother teasingly called me a ‘freak’ for liking (okay, loving) Jesse McCartney on the way home from school, and I was inconsolable until dinner time. Preteen girls, right?
Look at that smooth, undefined chest and sly nipple reveal. Worth every single shame-tear.
Except I didn’t grow out of it as I aged into teenagerhood. Throughout high school, it was always especially humiliating when I would get emotional about something – anything, really, though relationships and friendships and grades were all hair triggers – and I would feel the tears welling up. I’d blink furiously, excuse myself to the restroom, cheeks blazing as I slowly died inside from the shame of it all. No other girls were like that; no one else cried with so little provocation. God, I couldn’t wait to be an adult, when such petty things wouldn’t impact me so acutely!
Silly, naïve teenage cry baby. Phasing into adulthood was no escape. I still cried when I was emotionally hurt, when I was angry, when I was overwhelmed. I cried at every single movie I watched including the Robin Williams classic Flubber. I cried when I was very excited, I cried when I was exasperated, and sometimes I cried for no reason at all save for the fact that it felt like I needed a good cry. And god, did I hate that about myself.
It automatically made me feel inferior, made me feel ‘hysterical,’ undermined any argument or point I was trying to make. The moment I felt my eyes glassing up, I could see the annoyance in everyone else’s eyes. ‘There goes Grace again,’ I was all so sure they were thinking. ‘She cries anytime the wind blows.’ I had a boyfriend admit to me outright that he thought of me as “weak” when I cried, since he was trying to have a rational discussion and I would “dissolve into tears.” It stung, and I tried harder than ever to bury this part of myself.
Having a baby did not help.
It’s scientific fact that women cry more easily than men, and that’s because we have considerably more of the hormone prolactin in our bodies, since prolactin is the hormone that stimulates milk production. It’s also the hormone that stimulates emotional tears. So, imagine what happens when an already hyper-emotional girl adds even more prolactin to the mix?
It’s a wonder I didn’t drown in my own salty sadness.
Needless to say, I was pretty miserable with this new development. It was one of (in my opinion) my absolute worst traits and it was being magnified by something I had absolutely no control of. I hated it, but I’d begrudgingly accepted that there was nothing I could do about it. This was my life. This was my fate. I was a stupid cry baby adult who couldn’t watch a full episode of M*A*S*H without thinking too hard about the atrocities of war and getting all sniffly. I’d just have to suffer through it.
And then I saw this little guy on Instagram, posted by user called only ‘The Crybaby Club.’
I May Cry Enamel Pin, $10, TheCrybabyClub.com
First of all, I love glitter. I don’t care how many times I’m told it’s ‘out,’ I will forever incorporate glitter into my life as much as I can. Second of all, I love pink. Third of all, holy shit, did that hit home. I May Cry But I Can Still Get Things Done. How accurate was that?! Yeah, I was a total cry baby – every time the wind blows, thank you very much– but I was also kind of awesome. I worked hard, I loved harder, I was passionate about the people in my life and my new role as mother. Sure, I teared up when I stared too long at Lucy’s tiny nose or when someone cut me off in traffic, but suddenly that felt less like a shortcoming and more like an inevitable part of who I was.
Since that small epiphany over a year ago, I have become quietly obsessed with The Crybaby Club. I say quietly because I am not a vocal member of their growing, creative community, a team comprised of genius artists and designers who make cool stuff that empowers the sensitive. I’ve showed my support by slowly gathering pins and ordering Crybaby Boxes, always standing in silent solidarity whenever a new post goes up calling for the fellow Crybaby Girl Gang members to take pride in their tears. I carry my Crybaby Club membership card in my wallet, and while I sometimes wish I had it displayed somewhere more prominent, whenever I see it, it makes me feel good.
Crybaby Club Membership Card, FREE, TheCrybabyClub.com. Put ‘HTLYT sent me’ in the comments for extra love 💕
I am a total cry baby. That doesn’t make me any less of a force to be reckoned with.
Now, at 24, I’m not uncomfortable when I cry. I indulge in it, let it happen, and then move right along. I worry less about making others uncomfortable when I cry, and the boyfriend who once called my tears a ‘weakness’ is now my husband. I’ve managed to change his thinking about tears, too; we’re expecting a son in April, and we’ve agreed unanimously that we won’t tell our son not to cry. Instead, we’ll teach him the exact same thing we taught our daughter: that it’s okay to cry, and even okay to be a total cry baby. Because you may cry, but you can still get things done.
Thanks, Crybaby Club <3
Keep an eye out for an upcoming Femme Friday feature on Natalie, the founder of The Crybaby Club and one of my personal girl crushes, only in part because she has a dog called Cheese.