I’ve seen my mom cry twice in my whole life. Once when I was in 6th grade and I hugged my best friend goodbye for the last time before we moved away. And once at my brother’s funeral 6 years ago.
It always confused me. I’m a really emotional person and I used to cry All. The. Time. I could not wrap my brain around how my mom never shed even one tear. Especially given the infinite number of reasons she had to cry over the years. I always joke that she’s allergic to tears. And I still think it’s true to some degree.
But life as a mom, although it’s only been 3 years of it, has shown me a different perspective. Since becoming a member of the mom tribe, I’ve begun to learn and understand the inside scoop of how it all works.
Several days ago, I cried in front of my sons for the first time. They didn’t really see it though. I was driving and they were in the back seat.
I’ve never consciously tried to not let my sons see me cry. I don’t feel the need to always be brave and strong and tear-free in front of them. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s important to me that my boys see crying and feelings are ok and that there’s nothing weak about tears.
Why then, have they never seen me cry? Why don’t moms, at least in my experience of moms, cry in front of their babies much?
I think part of it is that if we really allowed ourselves to give into all the emotion we feel and experience on a constant basis, we might not ever stop crying.
Motherhood is a continuous pouring out of all that we are and all that we have to give. We feel everything. Much more than I ever thought possible.
We carry our babies in our bodies, literally, and then after we give birth to them, we carry them in our hearts forever. We know every mark on them. Every facial expression and quirky behavior. We’ve kissed every boo boo and caught every tear. We’ve watched them grow, day by day. We’ve cheered and encouraged and loved with everything in us.
All their successes, all their failures. It’s all wrapped up in us. And we carry it all.
My tears have changed since becoming a mom. I still cry. A lot. I ugly cry during Minute Maid commercials and I come completely unglued with all the mom sentiments that tell us we are the best thing that ever happened to our babies and we are doing a better job than we think.
But I don’t cry like I used to. I’ve really become much tougher than I ever imagined I’d be. Motherhood has given me an edge. But I do cry when my heart is so overloaded that it can’t possibly hold anything else and the tears have nowhere else to go.
I think that must be what all moms do.
We have to be strong for our babies, so when we are in front of them, our tears are tucked away. Not because crying is weak, but because they need us to be their strong force. And we are.
For many years I thought my mom just didn’t have tear ducts or something. Or maybe she was stronger than me. That last part is probably true. But I’ve decided, moms do cry.
We cry real tears in the quiet of the night after we’ve put everyone in bed and the exhaustion of the day hits us all at once. We cry in our cars after we leave our babies with someone else so we can go to work. We cry in the bathroom at our jobs when we get a phone call about one of our children struggling throughout the day without us. We get teary-eyed when our babies talk about getting bigger. When they get hurt, we are braver than we’ve ever been; but then, once we know they’re ok and no one is looking, we cry.
Even though our kids may not see us cry all the time, and even though we remain strong and tear-free in front of them most of the time, we cry with them through our hugs. We cry for them through our supportive words and encouraging speeches. We cry happy tears for them through our cheers at the stadium and our celebrations over even the smallest accomplishments.
Our tears are in our effort. Our tears are in our kiss. Our embrace. Our “Goodnights” and “I love you’s.” They’re in our bedtime stories and our night time routines. They’re in the clean up and the organizing. They’re in the phone calls and schedules and appointments. Our tears are in every dinner, every packed lunch and every school meeting. They’re in every “How was your day?” and “I’m right here baby.” They’re in every celebration and every defeat. They’re in every enforced rule and uncrossed boundary. Every thought throughout the day and every carefully planned move we make.
Our tears surround our children and are carried in the strength of our love. They’re carried in our prayers and our moments of weakness and self-doubt.
Moms don’t have time to cry very often. But out of the overflow of our hearts, our tears are everywhere.
And they never stop.
I may have only seen my mom’s tears twice, but I know they’ve been present through everything. Because her love for her children spills out from her heart and into everything she does. Just like all moms. My mom’s tears have covered me my whole life, and they always will. And now, my tears cover my boys, just as yours cover your children. They may not see it because there’s not much time for tears; but oh, they feel it. And now I know, moms do cry.