Home > Love, Parenting > No shame in tears, nor strength in dry eyes

No shame in tears, nor strength in dry eyes

“I was crying at school and I couldn’t control it,” my little boy whispered as I stroked his hair moments ago.

“Oh, sweetie,” I murmured. “You don’t have to worry about that. You just worry about feeling better.”

He nodded.

“Do you know I even cried, when I saw how much you were hurting? It’s okay. It’s okay to cry. It doesn’t need to be controlled.”

He didn’t reply, but his eyes drifted closed. I continued stroking his hair and thought:

I don’t want
you to struggle with stoicism as I have, like there is some great merit in stoicism above all else;
you to waste your energy concealing your heart to win anyone else’s favor; if hiding is what wins it, it’s not worth winning;
you to think it’s manly or strong not to cry, when indeed it takes profound strength to reveal vulnerabilities, through tears or otherwise;
you to believe for a moment that my love or respect are conditioned upon your ability to grit your teeth and bear it; these things you already have for simply being wonderfully, unabashedly you

  1. September 18, 2014 at 4:16 am

    I love you. That is all.

  2. September 18, 2014 at 5:42 am

    I love this. I struggled with stoicism in my younger years. It was mostly forced upon me by my father–there was no crying allowed in my house. I didn’t even cry at my mother’s funeral. In truth, often the most stoic of people are the hugest marshmallows on the inside. Once I was out of my father’s house I felt free to be a marshmallow on the outside, too. I cry at sappy commercials and You Tube videos. One of best gifts you can give your child is to let them know that all of their emotions are normal and perfectly alright to express. You’re such a good mom! ❤ 🙂

    • September 19, 2014 at 5:35 am

      In my case, my mom’s running a four-kid household by herself instilled in me the sense that certain things simply had to get done. Since they had to get done, there wasn’t much use complaining or wishing for another world. You just did them, no matter how you felt about it. What started out matter of fact morphed into me eventually taking pride in how emotionally beefcake I was. And that’s seriously what I thought, too, though I didn’t yet know the word “beefcake” and so probably used another one!

      I can’t pinpoint a single moment when that changed, but I really do think it comes back to working at the YMCA in college. Before that, I was much more interested in being strong and right than connecting with people. There, with folks (those crazy morning swimmers!) expressing their fondness for me, I felt some of those walls come crumbling, and my life has been much better as a result.

      Like you, I now cry at commercials, sweet statements, just the right look from my son, and just about anything else that might possibly inspire tears. And, you know, I’m OK with it. Life wasn’t actually better and I wasn’t any stronger back in the days I thought tears somehow meant I was weak. (‘Cause you know what? Tears and all, I’ve not only survived but thrived. That’s where the strength is, not in anything happening or not happening in the facial region!)

      Thank you so much for your comment and your kindness.

      • September 19, 2014 at 7:19 am

        You certainly have thrived and your children will thrive, too because of your tremendous insight. 🙂 Have a lovely day!

  3. cardamone5
    September 18, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Beautiful, and so true.


  4. September 18, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Oh, poor little guy. And mommy. Hugs.

    • September 19, 2014 at 5:42 am

      The last three weeks have been rough. Both the kids have been sick (tho’ not urgent care sick, until Wednesday), I’ve spent some time sick, and now Anthony is sick. There’s been little sleep and lots of discomfort, but oh, I am hopeful sleep and wellness are just around the corner. Hugs. Thanks. ♥

  5. September 18, 2014 at 8:17 am

    This made me cry. And that’s a good thing. xxoo

  6. September 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I completely feel the same way. Lovely post, Deb. 🙂 XOXO-Kasey

    • September 19, 2014 at 5:43 am

      Thanks, Kasey! I hope my words and lessons are enough to override what he sees and hears outside our home.

  7. September 18, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Since I chose to view the ugly tears as toxins which need to be expelled I have coped much, much better.
    And my eyes leak often. Sentimental tears, happy tears, and these days the tears of pain and/or rage are much less common.
    Tears are fine – and I love that you are teaching your boy that.

  8. September 19, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Since I chose to view the ugly tears as toxins which need to be expelled I have coped much, much better.

    YES!!!!! Yes, yes, and yes! I want everyone to read your words and, taking heart in their beautiful truth, change.

  9. September 20, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    One of the selections I really, really liked in Free To Be You & Me was Rosey Grier (football player from the 1960s) singing “It’s All Right to Cry.” It might make you feel better.
    Here is a link to youtube version. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PxC3zZ2Mus

  10. September 23, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Ah, how we all want our children to not suffer through the same struggles we went through. Good for him that he was strong enough to cry, what a brave little guy. Thank you for reminding him that it is perfectly ok to cry, and that he should not worry about showing his feelings through tears.

  1. October 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

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