By Kelly Hines
Things I should not be allowed to do:
~ Watch dog food commercials
~ Listen to Sarah McLachlan songs
~ Attend school functions
Because all of these things make me a teary eyed, red faced, simpering baby.
Twice in the past few weeks, I have been to my children’s schools and been reduced to tears. The first time, during the PTO meeting, as they gave character awards to students in each grade level. I listened, I applauded, I cried and cried. I knew none of the children.
This other morning, there was a Mom and Me breakfast. It was lovely and touching and emotional, and I was not the only weepy mother in the crowd. However, I was likely the only one who’s poor kid kept leaning over and saying stuff like, “Jeez, are you crying again? Are you going to be okay?”
During the last few minutes of the program, we were asked to turn to our child and say what it is about them that we love. They, in turn, would say what they loved about us as moms. Katie turned to me and said, “We don’t have to do this. We can talk about something else.”
I admire her restraint.
I feel much the same way. I am loathe to cry. I am not overly sentimental. I am not big on outpourings of love and grand declarations and romance. I’m more comfortable with a not too long hug (five seconds max, followed by the double pat to let you know it’s over). Maybe a high five. Maybe a ‘love you, mean it’, because the ‘mean it’ part makes it sound like maybe I love you, but not very seriously.
When my father was in the last weeks of his life, my mother encouraged us to have ‘the talk’. You know the one, where you tell your dying loved one how much they mean to you, and patch up any disagreements, and forgive any sins. I sat down next to my dad and said, “Can we not have this talk, and tell mom we did?” He laughed and said, “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Daddy,” I said.
That was enough.
But the older I get, the more I feel like emotion is manipulating my heart, making me feel soft and vulnerable and prone to saying things I would normally only say after many beers. I am crying all the time. Happy tears and sad tears and tears over my kids growing up and how many people I love and how I still feel so alone sometimes and the dog food commercials.
It is almost too much to bear, for a formerly tear-free person.
The more I fight it, the worse it becomes, until I’m afraid even the sight of an animal or small child will make me breakdown. “I don’t know what came over her. She was picking up dog poop and the next thing I knew she was crying.”
This morning, I hugged my daughter to my chest and whispered in her ear all the things I love about her. I cried big, fat tears, without apology.
And I kind of liked it.