Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Let Them Cry!!


Last week, I was in the grocery store with my four year old son. He was upset about something, I can't remember what, perhaps my refusal to buy goldfish crackers. At any rate, he was crying. We passed an older gentleman who looked at him and said, "You're too old to be crying." Somehow it just struck me all wrong. If I had been standing there with a four year old girl, I'd be willing to bet he never would have told her she was too old to be crying. I have three daughters and I have been vastly irritated at the messages the world sends them- be thin, be sexy, make it all look effortless. I've spent considerable amounts of time trying to deconstruct those messages with my daughters. Today it was my sons turn. I looked right at him and said, "of course your not too old to cry. If you feel sad, you can cry. You never get too old to cry." And I hugged him (which was nice, though he would have preferred the crackers). According to Brene Brown, the insidious message our culture sends men is, "never be weak." I suppose that message is so engrained and internalized that a well intentioned gentleman at the store felt uncomfortable seeing my son cry and even anxious to shore up the "never be weak" message.

My intrepid Dad with my daughter
Crying is not weakness. A long, long time ago, before 3 daughters and a son another boy in my life cried. It was a pivotal moment of caring and love, but it was not weakness. It was just a few weeks before my wedding and I was having my "cold feet" moment. Were we doing the right thing? Was I sure? Was he sure? I was having this anxiety filled conversation with my betrothed. He got up and said he needed to go outside for a minute. He had turned from me, but I thought I saw something. I grabbed him and turned him toward me. He was crying!! He had not wanted me to see it. In an instant all my doubts, fears and concerns melted away. This man loved me (poor misguided soul)! More then I had imagined! I knew suddenly and completely that this was a man who would stick by my side and love me, even when I left him standing on a roadside in the middle of nowhere. And he has. So, I say, let's let our girls be flawed and imperfect and know they still have immeasurable value. And please, let's let our men cry and have emotion and tenderness and know that there tenderness makes them strong and wise! To the greatest men I know, my Dad and Husband and Son, thank you for the love and tenderness and even the tears you've gifted me!
The two boys I live with, love and am inspired by everyday.


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