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About Magnificence in the Mundane

Bringing humor to the many challenges of parenting, driving a gigantic SUV full of smelly boys and their friends, letting go of the idea of perfection and tackling middle age all serve as my inspiration. We all have common experiences, I just share my take on the absurdity of every... Read more

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The Kleenex Chronicles

The guy scooping Italian Ice at the Carmen’s cart is onto me. Damn. The way he is pretending not to stare but totally eyeing me up is a dead give-away. I am used to it, but his pity shames me.crting

I blink and blink again. But, the American flag and the pool deck still swim in front of me. Where are my sunglasses?

I curse genetics or fate or Darwin. Whatever or whomever is responsible for this character flaw. I also curse the person who chose this adorable pre-teen to warble the National Anthem at an 8 a.m. swim meet.

It is too early in the day to get that throat burning, red-faced, flustered feeling. But, to a crier like me, kids performing anything, anywhere brings on the water works. Guaranteed.

Sap, Wuss, Baby, Lame.

That’s what they say. Admittedly,” they” is mostly my kids; perpetually mortified that I cry at the drop of a hat. In a house of all men, I am the weak link. Obviously, the Carmen’s guy agrees.

But now, finally, after a life time of teary recitals, ceremonies, commercials and movies I am vindicated.

I have found my people.

Science bailed me out reecently when they diagnosed me as an HSP. That would be a Highly Sensitive Person.

Ummm. I am not sure that I needed research and a study and a press release to announce that I might, maybe get a little touchy but I am hopping on this train nonetheless.

Because now I have a bona fide “condition.”  I am among a measly 20% of the population who, through no fault of their own, turn into a blubbery mess a lot.

This phenomenon was chronicled in the Wall Street Journal and given a mention on the Today show which totally amps up my credibility.

Fascinated, I googled HSP. At first I found a disease called Henoch-Schönlein Purpura which is an awful vascular condition. I started reading, but got upset one paragraph in because well, the poor people and the pain.

Which reminded me that I am sensitive and needed to Google HSP again using a key word or two.

The first result was a test to find out if you are highly sensitive. Excellent. I clicked on it so I could say that I had “been tested.” I mean that is so legit, even my kids couldn’t argue with me.

But, none of the questions had anything to do with crying every time you see a slide show even if your kids aren’t in it.


Some questions I couldn’t interpret. What does “I have a rich, complex inner life” even mean?  Maybe this was an IQ test and I was failing with flying colors. I was starting to take all of this personally so I hit the back arrow for the rest of the search results.

Here we go… Wall Street Journal. The article had a picture of movie goers and everyone was crying. JACKPOT!

The piece chronicled the research and recent conference that put the spotlight on the weepy of the world. It even outed Alanis Morissette as a “self-proclaimed” HSP.  We have so much in common, me and Alanis. Well, except the part where she seems bitter and lovelorn but not miserable enough to resist cashing in on her emotions.

Ok, back to search results. “Tips for Those with HSP.” Perfect.

After reading all the tips I figured it out. I can never see my children again. Our outings to Disney movies make me cry.  Their milestones make me teary and nostalgic. Their moodiness makes me feel like the worst mother on the planet. But when they adore me, I need Kleenex too.

They are my triggers and, according to the tips, all triggers must go.

I needed to “x’ out of the tips. Lordy, it is just too disturbing. If life with my kids leaves me on shaky ground, there is no hope for me without them.

I had researched as much as I could and learned nothing that qualified as earth shattering, I mean, it’s not like I can apply for a handicapped placard, get accommodated parking or coverage by the Persons with Disabilities Act.

I guess I need to be satisfied with the fact that I am not alone. That other people in the world hiccup and sniffle their way through life and are productive, successful individuals. To know that I would rather be too sensitive than to be hard-hearted and callous. That maybe someone else will see my salty tears in public and think “you go sister, let the sob-shaming stop today. Solidarity.”

Oh boy, hear I go again; all this togetherness and unity makes me so happy. Really I could just cry.

Reprinted from the Town Courier Newspapers

Maureen Stiles

About Maureen Stiles

Maureen is the author of the blog Magnificence in the Mundane. You can read her monthly column at The Town Courier.


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