I am not a huge fan of crying. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve thought that crying was a sign of weakness. This isn’t because I couldn’t relate to others in their need. I just didn’t see the reason for crying over something if I had no power to change it. So, I’d ignore the urges to tear up over a sad story or an overwhelming circumstance. I’m what psychologists would call a “Stuffer.” I’d just thrust those emotions down to the very bottom of my heart and pile a whole bunch of positive thinking on top of it. I got pretty good at it.
Then I had kids. And everything changed (including my emotionlessness).
As a mom of four, crying has now become an almost weekly thing for me. From middle school all the way down to toddler age, I have multiple opportunities throughout the day to give in to the tears that threaten to run down my face. Maybe you’ve encountered the same opportunities?
Opportunity #1– “Watch me, Mommy!”
We’ve all heard these words at one time or another when engaging in play with our child. Here’s the scene: You are doing your best to stay in tune with your son as he plays on the slide and the merry go round and the swings and in the sandbox and the etc… Then you decide you’ve got to sit down for a minute and let little Johnny go play by himself because you’re done standing. #onetiredmama So you turn around and walk towards the bench across from the play-set. And then it happens…the loud yell for you, Mommy, to look. Hurry! Turn around or you’re going to miss his biggest jump off the swings yet! So you turn only to realize that you did in fact miss his greatest playground feat ever as you see his big, sad eyes glaring at you from the mulchy ground. Cue mommy-guilt tears.
Opportunity #2- “Your pain is my pain.”
These are those teachable moments that seem to creep up on us and remind us of our younger selves. Check it: Your teenage daughter hangs up the phone and dramatically runs to her room. A few minutes later (after the ringing in your ears has stopped), you go check on her. She is laying on her bed with her headphones on listening to some sad song by Taylor Swift on repeat. Her heavy sighs confirm what your once lovelorn self already knows: Her heart has been broken in two. #dumbteenboys And you sit down beside her to try to comfort her only to see your adolescent self in her teary eyes. The pain of the past reminds you that this moment, while temporary, will leave a lifelong mark. Let the floodgates open.
Opportunity #3- I can’t fix this for you (even though I really want to).
He comes home from school with his report card in hand. The sour look on his face is a clear indication of some bad news about to be shared. You wait. He reluctantly hands it over with trembling hands and you nervously take a look. There it is. The F that makes you want to say the F word. Of course it’s in Algebra.Who really uses Algebra after high school anyway? Nevermind. You make excuses for him in your mind. You question if it’s really that important. Then you see him watching you. And he knows. You have to dole out some consequences for this grade. Not because you want to. Because, ultimately, his choices will make him or break him. Overlooking this grade would only set him up for a more permanent kind of failure. So you take his hand (and his phone) and you cry together.
These opportunities come our way whether we like it or not. We have to decide if we’re going to let them steer us further into relationship with our child, even if that means shedding a few tears, or if we’re going to let them push us out of connection with them. Seeing life through our children’s eyes will evoke emotions from the hardest of hearts. Our children seeing life through our eyes will help them see that we, their parents, are simply human. Just. Like. Them.
I have chosen to embrace my newly discovered weepy side. I’m so glad my heart was softened enough to experience this truth while my kids are still young. How are your tear ducts doing lately?