For much of my life, I have pushed down my feelings, especially sadness. I have resisted anything that required tears. Crying is incredibly uncomfortable, and I have done everything I can to avoid it. Last year when I began some in-depth exploration and embarked on retreats, this part of me began to unlock. It is still uncomfortable, and I have a fear that if I start, it will never end. I am, however, seeing the power of letting those emotions release from my body rather than hold on to them and push them down.
As you can imagine, given I have resisted tears, my children have rarely seen me cry. I have hidden behind the excuse that a mom needs to be reliable, and if she cries in front of her children, she will create undue worry for them. This belief has served me well as the perfect reason not to cry and push everything down. I am now experiencing emotions differently and allowing myself time to cry when I need to, but it has been challenging to navigate with my children because I still don't want them to see me cry.
One evening when the girls and I were doing our nightly routine, my youngest said something that went straight to my heart. For a moment, I thought to myself, do I bury the tears, or do I let them out? For the first time (other than a commercial or the ending to a movie), I let the tears flow. I sat on the floor of the bathroom, and I cried my tears and felt my feelings. It absolutely freaked my girls out. My oldest kept asking if I was okay, and I nodded my head up and down as I cried. My youngest fell to pieces. She started crying and told me to stop. She was a wreck. I motioned to her to sit with me on my lap, but she refused. She stood in the bathroom, wrapped in her towel, and cried. When I finished crying, we talked about how I felt and that I needed to let the emotions run through my body. The girls shared their thoughts, and my youngest told me how scary it was to see me cry. Ever since this experience, I recommitted to not cry in front of my children. It has had its challenges, but I have made it work.
I am taking a class right now called "The Wealth Code," which is being facilitated by Sara Longoria, a life coach. It requires experiencing and letting go of a lot of the crap I have chosen to push down and hold on to throughout my years. There have been lots of tears! This morning as I was working through a module, I was struck by something, and I felt the need to cry. My girls were with me, so I excused myself and went up to my room. I shut the doors, and I let it out. I was amid my tears when I could hear the footsteps of my youngest climbing the stairs. I moved from my bedroom to my closet, and I closed the door. Sometimes it feels like she has a tracker on me because she immediately found me in my closet. She began to open the door and asked what I was doing. I told her I just needed some privacy, and I would be out in a minute. She didn't like that answer, and she pushed the door open farther. I asked her to listen to me and respect my words. I told her I would be out in a minute and just needed some privacy. She saw my face and ran out of the room.
I finished crying, wiped my tears away, and prepared myself to return to the living room. My mind raced as I thought about how to handle my return. I couldn't just return and pretend that everything was fine. I felt strongly that I needed to talk with my youngest and verbalize what happened. I didn't want to create shame, fear, or another negative emotion connected to what just occurred. I was nervous because I had no idea how this conversation was going to go, so I called upon my bravery. I approached my daughter and let her know that I wanted to talk with her. I told her that when I was doing some work in my class, the teacher said something that went straight to my heart. She asked what went straight to my heart. I paused because I didn't know that I wanted to share my inner dialogue. I am the parent, I am supposed to have it all together, and I don't know if it is appropriate to share. I like to be prepared and rehearsed when navigating new territory with my children. This required me just to let go. So, I went for it. I shared that when I was younger, I felt like people didn't listen to me. She looked at me and shook her head back and forth. So I continued, and I told her that I grew up believing that what I had to say wasn't important, and she gasped. I looked at her and said that something the teacher mentioned made me think about those feelings, and I needed to cry. I shared that I prefer to do that in private, so I needed some privacy to let those feelings out. I told her I felt better after crying, just like she does after she cries and experiences those feelings. She took my hand, gave me a knowing look, and said, "okay, mom." Then she asked if she could keep watching the movie, and I exhaled.
As I sat there, replaying what had just happened, I thought about how important it was that we had that conversation. When we lack the information, we try to fill in the gaps with whatever makes sense. What makes sense is what we know from our life, and most of the time, we end up creating stories that aren't true. We carry these stories with us and create new, false narratives that we continue to bring with us into life. I want my children to have the correct information so they can be grounded in what is real and not carry inaccurate creations with them. I learned this morning that while a mother shouldn't disclose all of her inner worlds with her children, she indeed can normalize emotions, and teach her children that regardless of how old you are, you can continue to grow and become the person you desire to be.
Messages to my Daughters: Moms are imperfect, they feel emotions, they make mistakes, and they can choose to grow and become better versions of themselves every day, just like you. Moms are awesome, incredible, and fantastic human beings. And one day, when you become a mom, I hope you show your children your human side.