“Do Mamas ever cry?”
“Yes,” I laugh. Ha! Do we ever cry…
“Do YOU cry?”
“Of course I do,” I smile up at TWO in the rearview mirror. Her eyes search mine from the backseat.
“REALLY? ‘Cause I’ve never seen you cry.”
The car is quiet. My mind races and races. Because I do cry. I cry now more than any other time in my life. Some tears are embarrassed, some are angry, and others are long and lull me into a dark, head-achy sleep.
I cry sometimes when I walk home from school alone because I’m the only one left.
I cry when I get emails about a gunman on the loose in the neighborhood and the school is on lockdown and your sister is doing code-red drills inside the building.
I cry in the bathroom when the days are horrific with fights and angst and Daddy won’t be home for a few hours still.
I cry when I think about how you’ll probably never know your extended family, and feel the chaotic joy of a gazillion aunts and uncles and cousins racing in and out of the house and sitting down for a dinner that extends into several rooms.
I cry when people you love make decisions that break your heart and I have to try to soothe your sadness without saying too much, but can’t figure out how to balance the words, and always feel like I haven’t said enough.
I cry when I see pieces of me in you…pieces I thought I’d put to rest years before you were conceived.
I cry when a friend dies and I realize that I didn’t really know her the way I could’ve.
I cry at the end of silly movies I would’ve scorned in film school. And sentimental Cheerios commercials because I don’t have to pack baggies of dusty cereal anymore. I cry when I finish reading you a new picture book with a good ending, or books you loved as a baby, or books I loved as child that I’m now sharing with you, and still remember all the words.
I guess I should let you see some of that.
I thought I did.
But it’s hard to determine what to share and what to hide. And sometimes I’m not hiding the tears, just the scattered me who can’t function for a few minutes and needs to hide beneath blankets and pillows with the lights off to search for air. Because tears aren’t as straightforward and easy to soothe when you’re “all grown up.” They’re scary and overwhelming and sometimes require explanations that wouldn’t make sense without more words than you can handle. But it’s sad to think that I’m so stoic around you that the idea of me crying seems foreign.
The car is still quiet.
“Mama’s cry when their babies die, don’t they?”
I take a deep breath.
“Yes. They do.”
“I remember a story about how when our baby died you were so sad that you couldn’t sleep. And then you heard me playing with my duck in my crib…what song did it play?”
“Old MacDonald Had a Farm…” I whisper.
“Oh right. And it made you smile because you knew I was there and you loved me.”
Or maybe I’ll stop doubting myself and believe that you see enough. That I share enough. That you have in your heart what you need to understand, and the ways to process it. You certainly know how to cry without any extra support. And, as it turns out, the natural capability of comforting others without even trying.
©2013 CEK. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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