I’m a sucker for schmaltzy. I get teary at the start of Broadway musicals when the orchestra swells; I am the person Hallmark commercials are targeted at. My eyes brim at moment of beauty. I simply can’t control it.
I’m in Atlanta right now, working at a conference with my company. My shift ended at 3:00 yesterday, so I walked out to see the sites around downtown. I knew I only really had two hours until most of the attractions closed, so I settled on the World of Coca-Cola, since it seemed small enough to be manageable in that time frame.
As with many museums nowadays, you are herded from the lobby to a theater, where you watch the Welcome movie. This is Coca-Cola, so the movie was predictably schmaltzy (I have been known to get misty during Coke commercials. All that global happiness and such). The movie’s focus was on moments of happiness around the world (of course, accompanied by the ever present glass bottle): a man proposing to a woman while on a hot air balloon ride, a toddler bathing a puppy in a bathtub, a teen organizing a surprise party for her grandma.
One mini-story, however, made me cry. Really cry, not the “aww, that’s so sweet and touching” tears that I’m sure Coke was expecting. In this scene, a couple pushes a baby stroller with an envelope to the front steps of a house. They ring the bell and dash away, giggling, to hide behind the bushes. An older couple comes out, and the woman tears open the envelope. Inside is a card: You’re going to be grandparents! The couple shrieks and cries tears of joy while the younger couple dance out to embrace them.
The first thought in my mind? “She’s not even showing yet!”
The second (and third, etc.): “Is she crazy for announcing this? It’s so early! How does she know she’s not just setting these grandparents up for devastation? Doesn’t she know how hard it will be when she has to break their hearts, too? How dare she be so arrogant and confident to pull this stunt before she even is showing!”
I felt: angry at myself for this instantaneous, from-the-gut reaction. Jealousy. Bitterness. The deep disappointment of never having that moment myself, because I “know better.”
Needless to say, the movie didn’t leave me feeling happiness, though I don’t really blame Coke. I blame that woman. It’s ridiculous; I know. But the tears came anyway.
I survived. Here’s an “after” photo for balance.
oh dear god! I would TOTALLY have the same reaction! jeez, coke! but i’m also a crier by nature too. after mabel, imy crying got weird- i didnt tear up over the same schmaltzy stuff I did before. I wonder if I lost that part of me….
Interesting… I wonder if it’s more that your threshold for what is truly heartwarming and what is truly sad is just different than it was before. Not lost, just less sensitive?
Oh, I have struggled so much with this exact issue! I shared the news relatively late, because I’d been exposed to so many bad outcomes as a healthcare provider. Right after my son died, someone close to me shared the news VERY early, and I was furious. Now I had to worry about her losing the pregnancy?!? And to be honest, I was upset that she was asking for attention when it was so far from being a “sure thing”. But as I thought about it, I realized that losing a newborn had a certain sideways advantage over an earlier loss – because the loss was widely recognized. It was hard enough to cope with the fact that few people “knew” my son… what if no one else had even known *about* him? Would have been a whole different layer of disenfranchised grief. I look to others for support more now than I ever did in the past, so if I were to decide to get pregnant again (that’s an enormous “if”!), I might actually choose to tell more people early on. Even though I now “know better”.
I couldn’t agree more! While I have no idea what I will actually do (I’m not pregnant currently), both K and I think that we would have been much worse off if no one had known about Ander. As it was, many people didn’t, since I wasn’t really showing that much (awkward conversations with the neighbors, lol). It was much easier that people knew and could support us. Your phrase “disenfranchised grief” really resonates with me, as well as your observation that infant loss is more recognized than an earlier one.
We recently went out with a group of friends, and I somehow got it in my mind that one couple was going to announce a pregnancy. I got so preemptively angry and sad (eg. How dare they announce a pregnancy so cavalierly!) that I ranted to Zach all the way to dinner. I even cried for a good part of the ride.
Turns out they weren’t pregnant and aren’t even trying to conceive. Ugh. I felt awful. I would’ve had a hard time seeing the Coke video too.
Also, I hope you had fun down here in my neck of the woods (aside from the obvious)!
OMG- Liz, I totally have done that same thing too! I was terrified to go on vacation with my family because I thought my cousins would announce pregnancy (they didnt- BUT I did learn recently that they just miscarried, so I wasnt far off) and I have good good friends who I know are trying to conceive and i’m terrified of the day they tell us. I know my instinct will be to push them away, but I dont want to lose their friendship. I actually asked her to delay telling me as long as possible and had a tearful conversation admitting my fears- which actually ended up helping). It’s so good to know I’m not the only one who thinks this way!
Liz and Meghan – I’ve done the same thing!! Once I was right, though, and once I wasn’t and felt like a jerk. It was a stark reminder of how bad I still am at trying not to anticipate the future!