Friday, November 03, 2006

Why I cry

It’s no fair when I wake up at 5:30 am with a headache. Life is hard enough without having to start the day with one strike already against me. The headache seems all the more cruel because it came out of the blue – totally unexpected, unprovoked, undeserved. Well, I might have been grinding my teeth in my sleep when I had that awful dream about accidentally buying milk flavored with little chunks of shredded meat (a mistake the store manager insisted anyone could make). Or maybe it was the 10 lbs of candy I ate yesterday. That may have had something to do with it. Most likely it was the short crying bout I had last night. I always get a headache after a good cry.

My husband is very sympathetic when I cry but he always wants to know “what happened?” There must be a single event that has triggered my tears. Did I cut myself while chopping onions? Did the kids break an irreplaceable dish? Did a pet die? (I made that last one up. We don’t have any pets because I got tired of being the only one to feed them and clean out their tanks/bowls/cages. Now, if we got a pet – that would be a good reason to cry).

I think it must be one of those Venus / Mars things, but I have a hard time explaining to my husband that nothing happened exactly. Sometimes the sameness of my life – the broken record that is my nagging voice, the dishes and clothes that never stay washed, the decisions about what to feed everyone that I make 3 times a day (which works out to 1095 times a year) – sometimes it’s the nothings and the everythings that overwhelm me.

Jane Dickson Stairwell
I’m standing alone in a stairwell looking down at all the steps I’ve taken. I’ve married a great man, given birth to four wonderful children, accomplished a few impressive things along the way like collecting college degrees, running half-marathons, finishing some quilts. But some of those other steps below me represent regrets – the petty things I’ve said and done, the projects I’ve started but not finished, the many ways I’ve screwed up my kids (because God knows they’d still be perfect if it weren’t for the bad habits I’ve let them develop). And above me the stairs continue to ascend with mocking regularity. I rest my arm on the railing and prepare for the rest of the climb – the next step, next day, the next batch of laundry. But for now I pause in the light of the landing that is the present moment and I take a deep breath. And sometimes I cry just a bit.

I cry to relieve the pressure. I cry because I’m not sure what else to do. I cry to let my husband see that I need more help. I cry to let my kids know I’m human – as if there were any doubt. I cry because, just for the moment, I can see myself from above and my life seems a little pathetic, like a scene in a tragic movie or a Kodak commercial. My son, when I’m putting a bandaid on his owie, always looks in the mirror to watch himself cry and it makes him cry harder. Sometimes we all need a good self-pity party.

And then I realize that crying isn’t going to get dinner made, and the kids are looking a bit too concerned (because they didn’t really want to know I was human) and are offering to help me set the table. And nothing happens but I’m fine now and aside from a little emotional hangover in the morning, I’ll be fine then too.

14 comments:

meno said...

That's a nice post. Crying often is just a cumulative event. It's not something but some things.

Heth said...

This is a wonderful post, thank you for your honesty. I think we all feel this way sometimes, at least I know I do.

I'm glad I stumbled across your blog.

Renee said...

Thank you for that! I feel exactly the same way sometimes but am not as good at putting it into words. Motherhood is the hardest thing I've ever even attempted and sometimes I feel like I'm the only one struggling so much with it.
Thank you.

Casey said...

I think I just grew to understand your half of the species a little better. Men have the same feelings, but our humanity seeps out through other avenues than our eyes. We usually just do something stupid.

I always maintained that my mother, also with four children, could have flipped out, cussed us out, burned down the house, etc. and she still would have been a paragon of virtue and restraint because she would have done only half of what any sane person would do in her shoes.

jen said...

ahh. came your way via scribbit's recommendation, and am glad i did. crying is cathartic, important, and lovely. and so was your post.

Julie said...

Meno
Well said. Things tend to accumulate...

heth
thanks for visiting. Honesty is a scary thing.

Boulanger
I agree. It's a struggle and it's always a relief when I feel like I'm not alone.

Casey
Thanks for the alternative viewpoint . Your Mom is lucky to have your complete admiration. Hopefully my kids will forgive me in time for all of my own weaknesses.

Jen
Thanks for visiting. Catharsis is the perfect word. I tried to use it somewhere in my post but never found the right spot for it.

happy mommy said...

Really, really loved this post. You articulated the mental struggle I find in myself very well!

I think now when hubby sees me crying, I will say, "oh, it's nothing honey, it's just the stairs..."

Thanks for that little piece of you.

scribbit said...

When Andrew sees me cry "for no reason" he wants to know if I'm pregnant. Maybe I shouldn't have brought that up :) Another great post!

allysha said...

Although I am not a big T.V. person, once upon a time I did catch an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where Debra, the wife, just likes to put on some sad music from time to time and cry. And he just doesn't understand it. Sometimes crying is just a healthy release!

Julie said...

h.mommy
Thanks. The stairs were just the perfect image in my head. I had to hunt through all my art books to find the picture I was remembering.

Michelle,
Yah, pregnancy does send me into emotional freefall. But usually I don't need that kind of hormonal excuse.

Allysha,
The sad music is a good idea. Now where did I put my Les Mis soundtrack?

Anonymous said...

There's nothing like a good cry! In fact, I think I'm probably due :)

Kimberly said...

Whenever I'm getting frazzled and overwhelmed, my hubby asks, "When was the last time you had a good cry?"

Thanks for the lovely post...it's not good for us to pretend we're living up to the Super-Mom Ideal. Better to be human, better to be real.

eve said...

I know this is an older post, I'm new to this world of bloggers, but I have to be honest and say you're my absolute favorite thus far. Absolutely inspiring. I admire so much people like you who can so eloquently express their feelings. I'm with your dad, you should write a novel, I'll buy the second copy, I'm sure he'll want the first.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was so inspiring. I actualy stumbled upon your blog by accident while googling Jane Dickson's Stairwell for an essay in an Art Appreciation class.

...And let me tell you: your blog helped me more than any other article could have.

You sound like an amazing woman.
You'll be in my prayers!