“Mom’s crying again,”
my son says, elbowing my daughter.
They’re still young—both under 6 years old—but they’re old
enough to gang up on me. And that’s what
they do when they see me crying. There
was a time when they were fascinated by my public displays of emotion, but
that has long since faded. My daughter
looks over at me to confirm the waterworks, and when our eyes meet, hers
roll. I shrug my shoulders and mouth,
Today’s tears are the hardest kind to explain, because I am
not sad or hurt or upset. We are crammed
in the lobby of their school singing songs, the words of which are projected
onto the wall by an old school projector. These “Lobby Sings” take place every few months and it’s as chaotic and
hot and crowded as you might imagine an elementary school lobby to be. In 30 minutes, we cover ground ranging
from “Over the River and Through the Woods,” to “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
My tears start the second the music teacher plays the first
bar on the baby grande in the corner. The emotions well up from the deepest corner of my mothering heart. The first time it happened my daughter asked
me why it made me so sad. “I’m not sad,”
I assured her. “I’m happy to be right
here singing with you.” Kiddo, there’s
nowhere else I want to be. Not even close.
I’m not a religious person, but sitting on the hard floor
surrounded by little kids and their parents feels like sitting in the very heart
of a powerful, benevolent Divinity. Their little voices—the earnestness and the innocence—joined with those
of their parents, who have pushed off conference calls and postponed
appointments to sit here and sing off key with the rest of us, well, it just
makes me cry.
I never cried tears like this before I became a mother. I didn’t become emotional on a near-daily basis.
While I’m definitely not sad, it’s also more complicated
than being happy. It’s the cry of being
full, of feeling grace all around me, of knowing for at least these few
moments, I’m in exactly the right place with all the right people. My tears are the expression of the
overwhelming and inexplicable emotions that blossomed inside me when my kids
showed up in my life as little newborns who changed absolutely everything.
They are tears of vulnerability. Tears that recognize my blessings,
acknowledge my privilege and accept inexplicable forces that led me to this
one precious moment where I can actually recognize and feel all of these things.
And it’s not just the singing that gets me. The newsletters from my children’s school with
anecdotes about the children building a skating ring with blocks choke me up. When my daughter comforts her little
brother—her little arm around his neck as she whispers “it’s OK, little
buddy” into his ear, my eyes mist up. When
my son falls asleep on my shoulder softly snoring or my daughter draws me a picture
with dozens of hearts on it, I feel that tremble that comes just before the
I never cried tears like this before I became a mother. I didn’t become emotional on a near-daily
basis. Sure, I used to cry when I was
sad or angry, but that was relatively rare.
What I know is that these
not-sad-but-more-complicated-than-happy tears are a by-product of motherhood
just like my 10-inch C-section scar or my lopsided-from-nursing breasts. I love these tears, these signposts of the
grace in my life. I accept that my children may make fun of me for the rest of
“Go ahead and roll your eyes,” I say, then I grab a tissue
and wipe my own.