Tears On My Pillow

14 Jun

One look at him and I knew he wasn’t done. Brow furrowed, mouth turned down, eyes wide, he was half an inch from starting up again and I had no idea how to stop him. Then the tears started.

“Why are you crying?” I asked as gently as possible.

“Because of the lump in my froat,” he said, still too young to get the “th” sound right.

“The lump is in your throat because you’re crying,” I said. “So, why are you crying?”

“Because of the lump,” he said. I sighed. The physiology behind tear production apparently isn’t part of the public school kindergarten curriculum.

“Well, when we are sad, we cry and the lump means that you are thinking about something sad and then you cry because of the sad thing, not because of the lump,” I explained. Then, he cried in earnest.

“Why are you sad?” I asked.

He cried.

“Are you thinking about mommy?” I asked.

He cried harder. Ah, I thought, something to work with.

“Well, stop thinking about mommy,” I said.

The crying paused, as he considered whether it were truly possible to stop thinking about mommy when he was sure that mommy had abandoned him at math enrichment class. He began to cry again.

“Think about math,” I said. Well, I thought, that was the lamest thing you could have said. Sensing the lameness of my advice, he continued crying.

“Wait! Wait!” I said. “I have an idea! Let’s try this!” He paused.

“Take a deep breath and pretend you’re smelling a big bunch of flowers.” He inhaled.

“Now, blow it out and pretend you’re blowing out the candles on a cake.” He exhaled.

We inhaled and exhaled for a while ‘til he calmed enough to think about math. We got through the lesson. He never knew I learned “smell the flowers, blow out the candles” while helping care for my own mother, who died of emphysema.

I didn’t cry for my mother in public other than those dainty little trails so insignificant that they barely need to be wiped away. I remember holding my daughter’s hand as we walked down the aisle behind my mother’s casket. I spied a friend in a pew toward the front. Tears came to my eyes. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes until the tears passed, not in time to keep one from trickling down my cheek but before my mascara suffered any damage. My mother would have approved.

I’d like to tell you that my aversion to public crying is based on aesthetics. Runny, ruddy noses and red-rimmed eyes are unattractive at best. But I know that I really do think crying is for sissies and I am no sissy. No, I don’t think this is a particularly healthy stance, but it’s the one I’ve got. And, yes, I do know that big girls, and big men, do cry.

It’s not that I don’t feel like crying. I feel like crying so often I might be able to cry a river. Between hormone fluctuations and bipolar disorder, my brain chemistry is pretty much primed to turn any amount of pathos into a bawl. Remember that Coke

(ok, so it was Pepsi) commercial with the little boy being pounced on by a pack of puppies? Had me in tears every time I saw it. Now, I’m not talking little sniffles. I’m talking about tears that lasted way past the commercial break. That Procter and Gamble spot with all the moms dragging their sleepy kids out of bed so they (the kids, that is) can become Olympic athletes? Wrings sobs from me. Is it no wonder I’ve trained my tears to stop on command?

My kids, particularly my daughter, have picked up on my propensity for becoming maudlin over recorded fare ranging from the sentimental to the insipid. We’ll be watching a movie, say We Bought A Zoo, and everything will be going along swimmingly until the dad-figure and the son-figure have a touching moment that begins to heal the rift they’ve felt between them since the mom-figure died. Only seconds after my eyes begin to fill up, my daughter says, “You’re crying, aren’t you?” Doesn’t even have to look, she just knows it. My sister suffers the same schmaltz-induced weeping. Her kids are far less kind. “Look!” they say, “Mom’s crying! You’re crying, aren’t you?” I believe I’ve seen my sister stick her tongue out at them.

My daughter may have taken a page from my niece and nephews. Recently, she and a friend were cleaning up the family room. By that I mean they were listening to music, dancing and performing gymnastics amidst a myriad of books, stuffed animals and craft supplies. A particular Selena Gomez song came on; I’ve written about this song before. My daughter knows it makes me cry. So, in consideration of my tender feelings, she said, “Watch this! This song always makes my mom cry. See! There she goes!”

There, indeed, I did go. My daughter’s friend’s mother apparently does not cry at sappy Selena Gomez songs. Friend looked at me as if I were some exotic creature. “Why does this song make you cry?” she asked, cocking her head to one side like a scientist. I resisted the urge to hand her a clipboard and pencil.

“Well,” I said, “lots of women have a nasty voice inside their heads that tells them they are ugly or fat or stupid. It makes me sad that I have that voice in my head and I hope my daughter never does.”

She nodded her head and went back to turning cartwheels. Yes, in fact, I did cry writing that last paragraph—in the peace and privacy of my office.

11 Responses to “Tears On My Pillow”

  1. nevercontrary June 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Now that you have admitted it, I too can admit I love that song. Such an empowering song to have daughters singing. Good job!

    • jmlindy422 June 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

      Making the world safe for Selena Gomez songs, that’s my job!

  2. Mary Rayis June 15, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    I am the biggest crybaby around. My kids find it interesting and a bit embarrassing. And now I have a weird eye condition called blepharitis, so if something brings tears to my eyes, my left eye just won’t stop.

    • jmlindy422 June 15, 2012 at 7:05 am #

      Well, you could just dig that left eye out….or live with crying in public. That would be a tough one for me.

      • Lynn Zurowski June 15, 2012 at 9:01 am #

        Sniff! sniff! You made me cry….

      • jmlindy422 June 15, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

        Awwww. Sorry?

  3. philosophermouseofthehedge June 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Sounds sensible. Too much public drama for drama. Loses all meaning. Tears are nothing to waste.

  4. Mad Queen Linda June 18, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    I’ll be first in line to buy the product that will prevent my crying.

    • jmlindy422 June 18, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      All I have to do is think of my mother and what she would say! Shall we have a seance and get my mother to purse her lips at you? Those pursed lips stopped many a tear and quite a few giggles in church,too.

  5. Janelle Allee June 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Smell the flowers blow out the candles smell the flowers blow out the candles smell the flowers…..I detest crying in front of people….hate it. I barely cried at my dad’s memorial, I didn’t cry when my three children were born, I didn’t cry when I told them their dad and I were splitting up…But I walk around 24/7 with that damn lump in my throat. I’m on the edge always…so when I see those sappy commercials on tv…I lose it! I suppose if I let it all out at the expected times to cry I wouldn’t come off as such a nut huh?

    • jmlindy422 June 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      I think we should be allowed to do as we please with our tears. I, of course, would never think someone was a nut for crying at a Pepsi commercial…or a Selena Gomez song. Oh, that one by Bruno Mars! “You’re amazing just the way you are”? Oh, that one has me crying BUCKETS! We could wring out a hanky or two, you and me!

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