I let my son see me cry

As women, we are often told to be strong. As mothers, we usually don’t have a choice.

It’s no secret that motherhood is difficult. It’s painful, it’s scary, and it’s just plain hard. So, we are strong.

But ladies, we’re emotional too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve cried this week. And I’m not just talking about the time I saw the “sleeping” bunny on the side of the road, or the adorable elderly couple leaving Dairy Queen, hand-in-hand and dressed to the nines. I’m talking about raw, guttural emotions.

I’m talking about fear. Pain. Insecurity. Loss. Failure.

Yet, I am so good at hiding those feelings. How many of my fellow moms out there are guilty of fighting through the pain just long enough to get to your hiding place? You know what I’m talking about… that breakdown that comes on other side of the bedroom door.

I’m so guilty of this.

For example: I recently dropped my son off with his grandma for the weekend. I forced a smile as I waived and kissed his cheeks. I remained calm, centered. Strong. As soon as I shut the car door and watched him ride away, I broke. I became a sobbing, sniffling disaster with a tear-streaked face and mascara-stained sleeves.

But, why?

Humans are emotional beings, and those emotions are nothing to be ashamed of.

I realized this last night. It came out of nowhere. My son was playing, running around our bedroom while I put away laundry. Suddenly, he started screaming. He wouldn’t stop crying, his little mouth gasping for air. I tried to remain calm. I checked the ingredients on the vitamin I’d just given him. No allergens. I looked for scrapes and bruises. Nothing. I offered him milk. He refused it.

I felt my own tears welling up as I began frantically searching Google for evidence that toddlers can have panic attacks.

Eventually, we changed his diaper.

And, wouldn’t you know it. He was the victim of a particularly rough case of diaper rash. After being lathered with cream, he stopped crying.

My husband held him tight as he sniffled and made those tiny gasping noises that follow a good cry. His lips quivered, his eyes were puffy and wet, and he clung to his dad.

I studied my son—those chubby cheeks, perfect little teeth, soft hands, tired eyes—and I was overcome with emotion. The kind of emotion only a mother who has just watched her child go through pain can understand. And, I started to cry.

I didn’t wait until I was on the other side of the door. I didn’t lock myself in the bathroom. I didn’t even look away.

I let my son see me cry.

And, what happened? He wasn’t afraid. He didn’t panic, wail, or bury his face.

He leaned forward to hug me. He kissed my cheek.

Despite the fact that tears still slid down his face and his chest hiccuped, he wanted to comfort me.

Moms, maybe we don’t always have to be strong. Perhaps it’s okay to let our babies see us cry. Because the truth is, we can’t keep this up.

We have long, hard days. We work in and out of the home. We cook, clean, organize, and manage. We bathe and clothe tiny humans. We give it our all, rinse, and repeat.

And sometimes, we need our children just as much as they need us.

When they cry, you are there to fix them. You kiss booboos, calm fears, rationalize, and encourage.

But, what happens when you struggle?

Chances are, you may discover that your babies possess the tools—and the desire—to return the favor. They just can’t always tell when mommy needs them.

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