I didn’t use to be a crier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as sentimental as they come, but crying hasn’t always come easy for me. In my youth, I covered my face in intense situations as the corners of my mouth curled upward in rebellion—nervous laughter at a funeral is still considered inappropriate.
As time went on, I uncovered a new version of myself, one that cries at everything.
I don’t know if it’s a gift that comes with age or the softening of my heart as I experience more of life, but if I had to guess, I would give most of the credit to these little pieces of my heart running around outside of my body.
I knew the dry-eyed days were over when we were preparing to adopt our oldest two children. My oldest daughter was enthralled in an obsession with the Disney movie Frozen, so needless to say, we spent most of our time belting the soundtrack.
Aside from the obvious favorite, “Let it Go,” she also sang “For the First Time in Forever.” I guess I didn’t realize how much my little girl could identify with this song until I really listened to the words for the first time.
In the car, driving her to school, it all hit me at once. We were about to adopt her and her brother, and there she was, belting this song full tilt with head cocked back and eyes closed. Her 5-point harness was the only thing keeping her in the back seat.
To this day, she’s known for putting a dramatic flair to most anything.
Suddenly it made perfect sense to me:
“For the first time in forever
I’m getting what I’m dreaming of
A chance to change my lonely world
A chance to find true love”
This mama heart broke into a thousand pieces on the way to school, and since that moment, I can’t listen to the song without my bottom lip buckling. In my mind, my baby girl was singing about finding her forever family, and that was enough to open up to floodgates. (Mothers might be very good at over-romanticizing things, but that’s a different discussion.)
My point is—these babies—they are very good at softening our hearts.
Their unconditional love, the unbreakable bond we share, the way they need us, the pure joy they find in the most innocent things—it’s all so sobering. As a former child myself, these eyes take it all in with the understanding that these days will be over before they truly realize what’s worth missing.
Mothers cry because we’re scared. We don’t know if we’re doing a good enough job. An amazing thing you can do for a sweet mama in your life is to tell her . . . tell her she is doing a good job. Because chances are, she’s all too often convinced she’s screwing everything up.
We wonder if they know they hung the moon in our sky.
We hope we set them up for success and perk up their self-esteem.
We worry too much about whether we feed them too much sugar or give them too much screen time.
Do we play with them enough? Do we read them enough books? Are we spontaneous enough?
We pray we didn’t scar them for life every time we lose our patience.
We hope they’ll remember the best of us and not the momentary shortcomings or our humanity showing itself too often.
Mothers cry because we get it.
We’re seeing our own parents in a much different light. Our own human experiences are reframing everything, and we’re finally able to see the people who raised us as people with interests, strengths, and struggles of their own.
We’ve been given the gift of understanding as we navigate our own motherhood, and the byproduct of understanding is grace on grace on grace.
Mothers cry because we’re grieving.
We’re constantly saying goodbye to versions of our children we want to preserve forever. We’re also saying goodbye to versions of ourselves alongside them.
The frazzled, frizzy, over-caffeinated mama who made her debut when my youngest joined the family comes to mind. “Hang in there mama, nothing is forever,” well-meaning passersby would offer, and in some ways, that would comfort me but also leave me feeling more terrified than anything. They don’t know how hyperaware of that cruel reality I already am.
We made sacrifices to become who we are, and while we might miss the younger version of ourselves, in the same breath, we wouldn’t change a thing.
Sometimes we lose sight of the women we once were as we’re busy helping our children become who they want to be (which lately, changes by the hour).
Mothers cry because we realize as we’re watching our children grow with reckless momentum, we’re getting older too.
Sometimes we think about the world we’re raising them in, and we get scared.
Will it be kind to them? Will there be anything left of the world we dreamed of raising them in? Because it seems like that is an ever-evolving volatile situation in itself.
We are caring for our families while nursing our own wounds because there is no other option.
Sometimes we don’t have time to wait on our assigned village to arrive. Lost relationships, loved ones gone too soon, financial hardship, past trauma, it all frames our experience whether we want it to or not.
Mothers cry at the injustices of the world because that person on the news was somebody’s baby.
Mother cry because the weight of it all is just so heavy sometimes.
And yes, mothers cry out of frustration.
Especially when that sweet little bundle you’ve placed back in his or her crib a thousand times just. won’t. sleep.
Or when your child is going through something you feel helpless against.
But all things considered, I think about the times I’ve been reduced to tears and most of the time it’s because I’m just so grateful.
To experience the world through a child’s eyes has shown me how to slow down, pick the dandelions, find the perfect rock, get caught in the throws of joy from spotting a butterfly or a cloud shaped like your favorite cartoon character and soak every ounce of it up.
I don’t know about you, but this mama is utterly overwhelmed with just how beautiful it all is.
Because at the end of the day, God picked me—ME—this over-caffeinated hot mess to lead these little people through this life with love and to nurture them into the amazing big people He meant for them to be.
And that’s pretty dang awesome.
Shoot . . . anybody have a Kleenex?