It’s a scenario that is entirely universal and yet wholly isolating—a mother, shielding herself from the chaos of her home, crying, alone. Maybe she’s hiding in a closet, maybe she’s sitting in the driveway. Maybe her kids won’t stop fighting, maybe she hasn’t slept in days. Maybe her kids are ungrateful, maybe her child is sick. Maybe she’s a new mom, maybe she’s got adult children. Maybe she’s sad, maybe she’s overwhelmed, maybe she’s lonely.
Maybe she’s you.
It is a truth, a fact, an established and accepted certainty that motherhood is hard. It just is. It pulls more from you than you ever knew you had to give and makes demands of you that you never knew you could meet. Kids are rough, needy, expensive, and loud. We give—oh, how much we give—and wait decades to see the return on our investments. We want everything for our children, and that is seemingly what it costs us—everything.
This price we pay, while universally known to be high, still comes as a shock. Even if we know what we’re getting into, even if we’ve parented for years, even if we know what to expect from our difficult children . . . it’s still hard to swallow sometimes. Hard days are a blow to the ego, to the system. They’re disheartening, disappointing, discouraging, and it’s OK that you cry when you have them.
Maybe it’s social media, maybe it’s our own expectations, maybe it’s the mom we see every week who somehow manages to always be smiling and impeccably dressed and on time, but somehow we’ve been fed the lie that crying over your kids is shameful, or at the very least a private, secret matter.
We weep in the dark then wonder why we don’t see anyone else struggling.
We wipe our tears, hide the evidence of tribulation, and call ourselves strong for concealing our weariness. We face the world, face the kids, with a mustered smile and cheeks still hot from fatigued tears, drumming up images of soldiers marching on.
But motherhood isn’t a battle, and we weren’t meant to be soldiers in our homes.
Motherhood begins with becoming broken. Our bodies are distorted, our plans uncontrollably changed. Whether in a delivery room, a fertility clinic, or a social worker’s office, there is brokenness in the beginnings of motherhood. Like the strengthening of a muscle, our former selves are stretched and torn to become stronger. Motherhood, whatever journey is taken to achieve it, requires creating cracks in the former self to allow for new and unexpected growth. In any number of ways, while exhilarating, this is also painful.
And it’s OK to cry when you hurt.
There’s a celebration of those who can put on a brave face, but who are we, as mothers, trying to convince of our bravery when facing our children? Do our children need perpetually happy mothers, or do they need modeling of all emotions? Do they need to live in constant belief everything is easy, or is it OK that they see us struggle? Are we soldiers trying to intimidate an enemy in battle, or are we mothers who are human and emotional and breakable, trying our best to raise empathetic and breakable people?
It is not our job to harden our children for the world, not our duty to convince them things aren’t difficult. It is our charge to let our children know that yes, we cry; yes, it is OK; and yes, we still love them through the tears. Are we worried our children will doubt themselves if they witness our weeping? All the more reason to make emotions the norm so they will not be so rocked by their own expression but rather accept it as expected. Let your children know emotions are normal, are varied, that one can grieve and laugh and rage and fear, and that it’s OK that you cry.
You are not a bad mom because you cry.
You are not a bad mom because your kids see you cry.
You are not failing, disappointing, or unequipped.
Your tears do not mean you don’t love your children, nor do your struggles, your fatigue, your doubts, or your honesty.
Even though you may be by yourself when you fall apart, you’re not alone in your feelings. You’re not the only mom who cries or the worst mom because you do. You’re not meant to be unbreakable, unmovable, or unemotional. You don’t need a brave face or a battle stance, you need to sometimes just sit, feel, and cry.
Cry because it’s hard.
Cry because you’re tired.
Cry because this is a big job with a lot of emotions and all of them are valid.
Let’s be honest about this journey we’re on called motherhood. Yes, it is marvelous and wonderful, and we love our children so much it makes us rejoice and ache all at once. But we also cry sometimes, and that’s OK.
The next time you feel defeated, the next time you’re overwhelmed, the next time the kids are being just a little too much, let yourself cry. Let yourself be honest. Let yourself feel. When your child falls down and when you feel down, make sure they know it’s OK that you cry.