When I was a kid, no one in my family ever cried for joy or just because something was moving to them. We were a real New England family, and tears were only for tragic times (like a death in the family)–although teenage angst and depression wrung a few out of me (but only in private).
Cut to my oldest son’s first school recitals. One of the other moms turns to me and makes some comment about how hard she’s going to be crying in a few minutes. I smile but can’t relate–I have no intention of crying. And I don’t. I applaud wildly but I don’t cry.
Cut to NOW, over a decade later–I’m crying at everything and anything. I cry at movies, even at scenes that aren’t supposed to make you cry (like the “dancing queen” scene in “Mamma Mia” I mentioned down below). I cry at serious discussions with my kids, just because we’re together and talking. I cry when I hear sad stories about people I don’t know. I cry the second I think of my mother (who died a few years ago) or my grandparents (who died decades ago). I cry at every school event, any time I see one of my kids up on a stage or rostrum. Just this morning I was talking to my daughter cheerfully about her great-grandparents and tears came to my eyes before I had any idea they might.
When did I change? Why did I become such a softie? Is it all hormonal–some kind of weird very pre-menopausal symptom? Is it because my mother died and that made me sadder than anything else had before and that feeling doesn’t leave you? Is it because I’ve dealt with my kids’ various diagnoses and diseases and seen how fragile we all are?
Is this just what the world does to you? Why do tears come so easily now?
Anyway, whatever the reason, I’m glad they do. There’s no virtue in keeping a stiff upper lip and now when other mothers turn to me at school performances, their eyes shiny with emotion, I get it. My eyes are filled, too.
Although it was embarrassing to have tears rolling down my eyes at “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, part 2.” Oh, well. Only my daughter saw them and maybe she’ll learn it’s okay to be a little sentimental now and then. There are worse lessons in life.