I am a crier. I cry when I am hurt, I cry when other people hurt, I cry when I hear something that touches me deeply and I often cry when I feel really happy. It’s just part of who I am. And, other than the fact that I often have eye make up on my chin and foundation stains down my cheeks, I’m okay with that.
I think crying is healthy part of dealing with emotion. My tears often clear my head, they certainly clear my eye ducts but mostly they cause me to look at the real reason for the fact that my body is responding in such a primal way and as long as that is handled in an appropriate manner and the crying resolves I see no harm revisiting that feeling and trying to learn and grow from it. Or sometimes just feeling it and acknowledge the sadness, I have seen far greater damage done from repressing feelings than letting them show.
As a child I cried frequently and loudly, as a teenager and young adult , I cried silently but regularly. And as I grew older my tendency to tears didn’t diminish only my chances to show those tears in public did.
When I was in my 30’s I realised (some may say a little too late) that it was no longer socially acceptable to cry at parties, I had to be more discreet about my panda eyes when leaving movies and crying at work was unprofessional and had the added downfall of making me look a little unhinged. But I could still cry freely at home because aside from that fact that my husband would often try and “solve” my tears and cure my problems, by and large he understands that sometimes I just need to cry.
And now that I have a child that I cannot (and don’t wish to) escape from I sometimes cry in front of him. I’m careful not to howl profusely and I try my hardest not to sob endlessly over things that I cannot control, but I do cry.
Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote in Salon recently about her “year of tears”. Her tears were very different from mine, caused a result of her cancer diagnosis and the death of two members of her family, she writes in part:
Fortunately, crying isn’t the same as being depressed — and it’s definitely not the same as being negative. Half the time, I’m crying because I’m just so goddamn happy to be healthy enough now to watch my children perform in a school play or run around the park, so glad to watch the seasons melt into each other. But the other half of the time, admittedly, I’m busy grieving or experiencing the terror of mortality, with an occasional side of physical pain. And all of the time, I know that crying represents a surrender of control, a vulnerability that can be confusing and upsetting to children. That it is a signal that all is not right in their protected world of childhood.
.. my kids have seen not just me, but their father and their grandmother, moved to tears at the sudden, unlikely moments. They’ve watched the adults around them — their parents’ and grandparents’ friends whom they’ve known all their lives — with their guards down, sobbing helplessly on each other’s shoulders. We have abruptly found ourselves long past the days when the most traumatic thing that could happen to them would be to discover who’s really been filling their Easter baskets and slipping dollars under their pillows when they lose a tooth.
At times, I worry terrifically about scaring them. I have spent their lives telling them that it’s OK to cry, letting them feel safe about expressing themselves. But there is a huge gulf between their emotions and Mommy’s emotions. Mom’s job is to be strong and reassuring and tell them it’s OK. And that’s not so convincing when she’s going through a few quarts of Visine a week.
Behind my frequently welled-up eyes, there’s a woman who struggles daily over just how honest to be. Do I march out of the room and hide in the bathroom when a jag comes on? Or do I let the kids put their arms around me in comfort? Am I teaching them empathy, or burdening them with things far too big for little girls? I haven’t figured it out. I just try to be sensitive to where they are on any given day and do my best. I try to assure them that if we’re crying because we miss Grandpa, it’s actually a hell of a lot less sad than if we weren’t crying, because we didn’t.
I’m with Williams, I never want to scare my child but I do want him to be empathetic and I want him to know that it’s okay to cry, it keeps the tear ducts clear and it’s okay to be human. Even when you are a mum.
Do you cry in front of your children? Did your parents cry in front of you?