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  • Renee Burns

Why we need to normalize those ugly car cry moments-


I’m sitting in bed, knee propped up, cat curled up next to me (don’t tell my husband, he ‘pretends’ to hate when the cat’s in bed), taking some deep breaths before my surgery tomorrow.


So today was the girls original due date. If you read my most recent post, A Valentine to a Fellow NICU Mama, you are aware of my struggles with specific dates/holidays. Today SHOULD HAVE been the girls 1st birthday, however we celebrated it (COVID-style) via zoom last November. It feels like ages ago! Since then, we’ve celebrated all the things- Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, New Years, Valentines…etc. It really puts into perspective how early the girls decided to make their grand

entrance, as well as what a difficult time of year it was for us as new parents to navigate the NICU life, while also juggling the many ‘baby’s 1st’ *insert holiday here*.


Anyway, today we put on party hats, gave them chocolate ice cream, and cleaned in preparation of my inability to be much help around the house for the next little while. As I was folding clothes, vacuuming, wiping down the fridge, I found myself welling up with emotion, and fighting back tears listening to the twins giggling, clomping, and otherwise ‘toddlering’ around in the background.


My tearing up has been a regular occurrence since we brought the girls home from the hospital LITERALLY the same week a pandemic was declared. Due to personal experiences, and professional training, I think I’ve been able to rationalize, normalize, welcome, honor, listen to, reflect on, and sit in my emotions decently well throughout the past year…today I was aware of my sadness and feelings of loss. One of the girls took her 1st wobbly step today. They are getting to the “fun” age of being able to chase them around and experience the world as it opens up around them. I was sad thinking about the fact that I will not be able to roll around on the floor with them, run after them, and help them in way that I visualized I would when they both reached this stage. Instead of rationalizing it, or telling myself “it’s only temporary” or “at least...” I just let myself be sad. I told my husband. I also talked to an old girlfriend who is near and dear to me…haven’t talked to her in AGES, and I said it- “I’m having a hard time.”


It’s such a weird thing that in our society the three little words “I’m not OK” are so difficult for so many to express. I know I’m over-simplifying with that statement above…but this is not the place I want to go down the rabbit hole of everything that is wrong with the dominant-white-male-eurocentric-power-over-“pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps”-emotions-are-weakness-just-get-over-it-culutre….so, instead, yes I recognize how difficult it is to be able to own “not being OK”.


My “not okay-ness” really snuck up on me last week. It wasn’t a special holiday, or date with a certain meaning. What it was me passing my finale boards for clinical licensure (you get to sit for 2 different rounds of 4 hour board exams in MN- super fun). This was something that was SUPPOSED to happen before the babies were born (on their original due date in Feb, not Nov!). However, as my aunt used to say, ‘G-d laughs when you make a plan’. My license has been something I have been working towards off-and-on since starting in the field over 15 years ago. So, when I was hospitalized at 22 weeks pregnant, all professional goals were put on pause. And, after being the primary caretaker for the twins (along with the hubs) over the past year+ due to COVID, I honestly did not see it in my future to get back to A- finishing CEU’s, B- studying, and C-passing.


So when I hit the “submit” button on the computer screen at the testing center and the initial score populated and said “PASS”…ALL the tears, snot, sobs, shaking came ALL at once (and let me remind you this is a professional testing center where they scan your palms, lock your phone away and shit…total silence in the room- with a proctor). It was all I could to do to get to my car in the parking lot. And there I sat, head on the steering wheel, full-blown ugly cry sesh.


And I’ve never felt better! It wasn’t necessarily a tears-of-joy kinda cry. It also wasn’t a sad or mad cry…it was a primal, biological release that NEEDED to happen. And it needed to happen in a public parking lot, in broad daylight I guess.


As I continue to learn how to best parent my little warriors, I hope to continue to be able to own, acknowledge, and express emotions with them. I especially hope they get to a point in their life where they feel comfortable, and safe enough to find the beauty and peace in a good cry…with music blaring, in total silence, I don’t care…I just hope to model to them that it’s OK to not be OK, and that sometimes maybe all we need is a good car cry sesh to feel better.


See you on the other side with a (fingers crossed) new-and-improved knee!


XOXO- mama Burns

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