Her Bad Mother and Mothergoosemouse were talking about this whole "all moms go to Heaven" deal.
This will probably be a big fat newsflash: I am no saint.
If you ask me, I am more likely to say I am consigned to the fires of hell than to the pleasures of heaven.
This is because---if you ask me again---I'm likely to be far more critical than forgiving of myself as a mother.
I have confessed that I:
* yell at my kids
* frequently lose the upper hand
* often feel inferior to the task
And that's just in the last month. Seriously.
If I am really honest, I probably am near or in tears at least once a week. You try raising special kids. You know, the ones who have teachers who speak of them using A Tone. And lots of Euphemisms
Oh, wait. Your kids are special too?
Sorry. I got caught in my own whirlpool of self-centered miasma. Am I mixing elements there? Sorry. I get my liquids and gases confused sometimes.
Tonight was my big modeling gig. We even got our hair and makeup done. I wore clothes that cost easily five times as much as my current most expensive piece of clothing.
But best of all...I got to Go Out. Leave Home. Drink wine and talk to grown-ups.
Fifteen minutes prior to departure time for The Gig, I poured my protesting and tantrumming children into wrestler style leotards and sent their screaming selves off to gymnastics with my husband. I was glad to see them go, not sorry. I felt relieved. And then I felt guilty. Today was a Not Good day in many ways.
So I allowed myself five minutes to cry over it all. I had to spend the next five minutes with a cold washcloth over my eyes so they looked less swollen and red when I arrived for my last minute wardrobe check and makeup design. I spent five minutes walking to my friend's house, psyching myself into the party spirit---or trying to, anyway. And failing.
I arrived---ready to parade myself in my casual, day-to-evening, and formal couture---looking miserable, like death warmed over.
My friend Cindy saw me plop on my other friend's couch. "Julie!" she called happily, "Hey, so glad...whoa...what's wrong?"
I described Patience locking herself in the pantry, the horrid rest of the day, and ended with details of screaming banshees (including myself). I was miserable with pity and self-loathing for my failure to keep the situation in good hand.
"Sometimes I wonder if I'm up to the task," I confessed, "This whole mommy gig often just feels so...beyond me. I can't believe I cried. Again. What's wrong with me?"
Cindy looked a funny combination of at a loss and sympathetic. Then her face cleared, she gave me a little hug, and said, "What you need is some wine, love." She called out to the hostess, "You got those bottles uncorked yet?"
That small act of care and kindness brought tears to my eyes again.
Crying. That's the thing we just don't talk about too much, isn't it?
That's because there's no crying in baseball...or in mommyhood.
But I have spent more time in the last five plus years of mommying choked up, fighting tears, or indulging in tears than I have the rest of my life combined.
Historically, I am rather stoic and emotionally detached---usually---that way.
I'll get fiery. I'll get motivated. I'll confront.
But I don't cry.
I've listened, over time, to stories of women talking about having a confrontation with a coworker, boss, friend, or boyfriend and speaking with self-loathing about always getting choked up or crying, and hating it.
I've heard men and women alike, personally and professionally, speak openly about detesting Criers.
Why are we so uncomfortable with crying? Open displays of emotion?
What's wrong with grief? Vulnerability?
Our first instinct with any crying by anyone is to Make. It. Stop.
Even if it means invalidating the feeling behind the display.
Crying is weak. Not strong.
And in most things, we prefer strength. The act---the facade---of pulled together, stoic, unemotional, strong, water off a duck's back cool.
I get that.
But there is something to be said for the benefit of indulging in a good cry when you feel the need. And as a mom? I often feel the need.
The responsibility of properly launching well-adjusted people onto the world weighs on me frequently. I'm all too human with expectations of perfection.
Was that a cynical comment I expressed in front of my kids? Did I just mention a verboten topic where they could hear? Oh drat, a curse word? Oh shoot, how Patience talking to Persistence...is that just like I talk to her sometimes? Is it okay I do it like this sometimes? Okay I do it like that? Do more? Do less? Is it okay they do that? Or don't do this?
I get a grip. I get perspective. But some days...it can be overwhelming. And I cry.
Like today. It's crying with regret for how it was, sorrow for not hitting what you wished it could have been. It's a stress relief. It's guilt. It's emotion so complex it lacks a name, but nevertheless clogs your throat and can only be released via tears, not words.
I say I have tears now---instead of before---only because now I care so much more than I ever have before. I prefer that to the scientific study that says increased crying is related to higher neuroses.
I try not to cry in front of the kids. I prefer to vacuum. The white noise sends me into a zen meditative state and frightens away the small children and pets, buying me a few precious moments of peace. Plus, my floor gets clean.
I'd do yoga, but it simply attracts the aforementioned creatures from whom I am trying to escape.
And there you go; the other rarely mentioned aspect of mommyhood: desire to escape.
That's what else the tears are for. A little grief and self-pity.
Remember how you used to dress, fix your hair, care for yourself? Before any said act was deemed selfish, or denied time?
Mommying is supposed to be chock full of Hallmark moments: perfect idyllic joy---smiling picnics in the park, adorable special moments of revelation, sweet tender loving moments, and so forth.
These moments happen all right, sandwiched right between the challenging moments.
And both bring tears.
I try to feel okay about it. I try to not let it make me feel like I've lost control, am out of control. I try to rebel against that negative message about crying: dry your tears, turn that frown upside down, find the silver lining, make lemonade out of lemons. I try to accept the release and benefits of crying. I let it be a moment, and carry on. I try to allow it, instead of pretending it didn't happen.
I'm not sure that detached stoicism is a good mommy trait, anyway.
If I can be okay with my emotions, maybe my kids can be okay with theirs.
In fact, maybe I've done way too good a job; they seem way too comfortable with their broad emotional range and freely sharing all within. Hence my tears today.
So tell me, truly, do you cry? What do you think about it? What brings tears for you?
P.S. I've thought that next Wednesday, April 18th, can be Hump Day Hmmmmms. We can launch it with all participants writing about their thoughts on justice and forgiveness. Just email me a link to your post once you get it up and I'll master link from here to you. Please, participate. I don't want to look like a jackass. LOL
P.P.S. Please make sure to read the awesome Just Posts that Jen and Mad host.
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Tags: crying and tears for moms, kids