This was a rough morning. I mean rough. I was fighting with my husband . . . again. Late for work . . . again. Going on three hours of sleep the previous night. My nerves were shot. I walked into the kitchen, fully dressed and ready to take on the day. The sight that greeted me was one of havoc, chaos, and disgust.
My formerly clean kitchen had dirty dishes spread all over the counter. The blender was half full of an unappetizing milky banana stinky substance. And my mother’s cast iron skillet had been used—on my flat stovetop, which I never do.
The teenage late-night cooking bandit had struck again. We have been over the rules ad-nauseam: If you are old enough to cook, you are old enough to clean up your mess. Turns out, the teenage bandit was asleep on the living room sofa, TV blaring, with the contents of his late-night buffet littering the living room. I lost it.
I literally started bawling like a toddler having a red-alert temper tantrum in the check-out aisle of the local grocery store. On display for all to see. Only this time, it wasn’t mere strangers I would never set eyes upon again. It was my children. My two sons. The absolute best parts of me. The ones I try not to let see the pieces of their mother falling apart. But see, they did.
It was ugly. It was brutal. It was like the reservoir busted and the dam broke free, irrevocably flooding anything and everything in its path.
Once I took some time to call my mother, cry some more, pray, and get a handle on my puffy, red, mascara-stained eyes, I went back to the kitchen. I sat at the table. My youngest son tread softly into the kitchen and asked if I was okay. I said, “No, but I will be.” Tears, once again, flooded my raccoon eyes. I tried to keep them in, but it was no use. Too much emotional mojo had plagued me on this random Friday morning.
I sat with my son, trying to explain to him that I was feeling overwhelmed with several different things. And I just sort of broke down. I apologized for my mommy tantrum. I saw a solitary tear well up in the corner of my son’s eye. Which only made my own tears flow more steadily.
“Bud, I am not upset with you at all! And I’m sorry I made you cry,” I managed to blubber across the kitchen table.
“Mom. If I’m gonna cry for anyone, I’d rather it be you,” my nearly 11-year-old, sensitive, precious, empathetic, big-hearted son said. By that time, the waterworks were once again back in full force.
I pulled that young child in for a hug and tried, unsuccessfully, to explain to him, with words that felt so inadequate and surface-level compared to the depth of love I felt, how he has the most beautiful, caring heart I have ever known. And how his words touched me so deeply.
I hate it when my kids see me cry. I should be the strong one. I should wipe their tears. Not the other way around. But at times, life gets to be a lot for us mommas. We simply can’t help but let it all out.
Perhaps it is okay for our kids to see us lose it every now and then. Chances are pretty good they will experience those overwhelming emotions of adulthood themselves, in time. Hiding the inevitable only shadows a very real part of life. They need to know it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to vent. It’s okay to ask for help, and let your loved ones know you have reached a dangerously high level of enough.
Today, I will forgive myself for losing it. I will pull myself up off the bathroom floor, wipe the wet from my face, and pick up the pieces of yet another overwhelming wave of emotion. I will do better tomorrow. After all, I now feel cleansed and rid of all the pent-up frustration and hurt I had been carrying around for weeks.
And most of all, I will thank the Lord above for the most beautiful two gifts I have ever received. My sons. As much as I miss being the mommy who once wiped their overwhelming tears, the tides have turned, and they now use that same nurturing care to occasionally wipe the tears of their momma. That is a gift for which I cannot possibly express my deepest level of gratitude.