I am fascinated by the ‘encouragement’ some people give in the face of momentous life events. And, some even go so far as to attempt to ridicule or shame into a behavior they find more appropriate, or that makes them more comfortable. I and my family, have just experienced one such momentous life events. Let’s address this…
On July 28th my daughter got married. The day… that day is one I still struggle to find the words to properly articulate my emotions. I will say this. Everything was perfect. Everything was terrible. The perfection of the moment arose from a parent’s comfort in knowing her daughter was happy. Her heart was home. Her soul was cherished. And yet, every terrible moment arose from that same knowledge. Listen, every wish I had ever had for my child started with her soul-safety and sprouted roots from there. That wish has been actualized. What I never did however, was envision what the moments after that moment would look like… for a parent. What the reality of handing your child off to a life-partner can manifest… in you. I now know. There is a duality that is soul-wrenching. I know, I know my child is safe. Her heart belongs to a man who cherishes it. A man who is dedicated to cradling her soul and helping her to give it wings. A man whom she adores. I have experienced peace. But, there is such a fullness in what they have between them, I mourn the possible shrinking of the space I once inhabited… in her.
I cried. I cried in uncontained elation and I cried in sorrow. I cried because on that day, I watched my daughter cross the threshold from my child to his wife. I saw it happen. It scared me. It made me smile. My tears were a forgone conclusion to this momentous event, however. Those who knew me expected the tears. My daughter expected the tears. I expected the tears. What I did not expect and reject outright however, are those who (not my daughter) encouraged me to “don’t cry” and those others who label expressions of emotions “drama.” I could have a question here. I could ask “what is wrong with [my] tears?” but instead I will state, there is indeed something wrong with you for finding the show of emotion in the face of such an emotional life-changing moment either dramatic or should be handled stoically.
Listen, in no way am I disparaging those who internalize their emotions; I respect we all get through in the ways that work best for us. What I am fascinated by, is the naiveté and utter foolishness that allows for one to cry at the ending of a relationship to a stranger (and, I could care less how long you have been together and how many times you “got down”… you are literal strangers!) and yet reject the expression of emotion when attached to a child. Ahm… related. Shared DNA. Gave birth to. Ridiculous! We are more comfortable and think justified with the outpouring of emotion – regardless of the emotion – when applied to celebrating a success, loss of something or someone, the purchase of a damned house. We cry and celebrate at the birth of a stranger’s/celebrity’s baby, yet dare to tell a mother to “don’t cry” when her child takes those life-changing steps?!? Don’t be stupid!
I will cry, laugh, celebrate and do it all outwardly at every single momentous step my child takes! I will write, tweet and blog about it! I will bring the “drama.” I will make her feel as important and more so even, as you all did when Michael Jackson died and yall wailed and carried on! I know her. I talk to her. We laugh and cry together. She knows my name and I know hers. I gave birth to her. Why would showing the world just what she means to me ever be something I need to hold in? Why are we so more willing to express to our lovers and not our children? Why would I ever leave her to wonder how I felt about her? Or ever let anyone in the world think she was unloved? Un-cared-for? Unprotected? Why would I never allow her to see yet another manifestation of what loving her does to me? My tears in those moments, mean as much as any of the words I have ever spoken. As much as any of the disciplines I have ever doled out. As much as any of the clothing I have bought or food I have provided. They mean as much as any of the hugs and kisses I have given. As much as any of her tears I have wiped away. My tears in those moments are my acknowledgment that love is a verb, not the noun some think.
Yesterday my daughter relocated to the other side of the world to start a new life with her husband. They are embarking on an adventure I know will be spectacular. I awoke this morning to messages from them both; she’s arrived safely. I am proud of her. I am excited for her. I am in tears. And that makes me proud of me.
“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body…” Elizabeth Stone.