One night last week while winding the boys down for bed and hog tying Keegan for his breathing treatment, Keegan looked at me and asked me if I ever cried. Out of the blue. No idea where the question came from.
Keegan is my sensitive little man. He doesn’t like people yelling. He doesn’t like people being hurt. He doesn’t like conflict, at all. I had lunch with him on Halloween and he was upset because one of the teachers had talked to him in the hall because he was supposed to be headed to lunch and was instead in the hallway helping a friend find his lunch bag. In his mind he got yelled at. After he told me the story he added that he couldn’t wait until school was over so that he could go home and cry. He cries a lot. More than any little person his age should.
When he asked me if he cried he added I can only ever remember you crying once. I just don’t think you cry.
What I wanted to say to him but didn’t was that he is just like his mommy. He cries a lot and he doesn’t like to do it in front of other people. It made me wonder if I’m setting a bad example for him.
When he said he’d only seen me cry once he probably wasn’t wrong. The only time I can think of that he would have seen me cry a lot was when I got the cook book from my mom. I dropped to the floor and sobbed uncontrollably. My boys were there to hug me and bring me back. It left a lasting impression on both of them. They’d never seen me like that. They didn’t even see me cry when my sister died. I did all of that behind closed doors.
After Keegan’s comment I really stopped to think. I do cry. Not a lot, but often enough. Sometimes they are happy tears. Often they are proud tears. The sad tears I cry at night, all by myself. Usually I’m overcome with emotion and just need to release. Most of the time I don’t purposely avoid crying in front of anyone. It’s just that I stop to think more after the day is quiet and everyone is sleeping. The happy tears and proud tears are not large and are rather easy to hide – unless someone happens to talk to me when I’m in that moment. Then the tears just flow and there is no stopping them.
I came to the conclusion that I’m not necessarily setting a bad example for my boys. I support them when they cry and I don’t try to stop them. I encourage them to show their emotions. What I need to do is not try to hard to cover up all of the tears. I need to let the happy ones flow especially. I want them to see that we can cry for all sorts of reasons.
I cry tears. Tears of all kinds. My boys will cry them too. I will encourage them. It will make them stronger, more empathetic and sympathetic men.