"It's alright to cry, crying gets the sad out of you!
It's alright to cry, it might make you feel better."
The I-can't-zip-my-backpack cry of frustration.
Gnawing on fingers always helps.
Cut loose, baby!
In a house with three little ones, there's a lot of crying. There's the inconsolable my-gums-are-hurting cry of a teething toddler, the I-need-a-nap-but-won't-admit-it cry of a preschooler, and the frustrated I-can't-explain-why-I-misbehave cry of a 5-year-old. There's the I-dropped-my-blanket cry, the someone-slapped-me cry, and the I'm-ashamed-because-I-hit-my-little-sister cry. This is just to name a few. And any mother worth her salt can differentiate between the many versions, even if she's sitting in another room.
The I-was-having-fun-a-moment-ago-but-now-I'm-not cry.As parents, we're wired to feel uncomfortable with crying, and to do something to make it stop! Admittedly, when Violet starts her tantrummy screaming, that "something" might be a threat: "I'm going to stop this van because I can't drive whilst listening to you yell" or "You're going to have to go out on the porch because you're hurting everyone's ears". You don't have to tell me how potentially damaging it is to essentially tell my child that it isn't okay to cry. Doesn't every mother know more deeply than anyone the ways in which she is messing up her kids? My sister once said, "I'm a lot more relaxed now that I've acknowledged the fact that, no matter what I do, my kids are going to be complaining about me to their therapists in 20 years..."
Generally, though, I try the ever-available, all-purpose Mama Embrace. When I'm not at my wit's end, when I haven't refereed 40 fights by 10:00 a.m., and when I think I won't get flailed at for trying, I sit silently and open my arms. I hate to be hugged against my will and think kids should have the same opportunity to NOT be hugged if they don't want to be.
More often than not, the offer is accepted, and just the rhythm of my breathing, the warmth of my arms, is enough to calm the storm. It's an awesome power we wield as mothers, is it not? Where something free and ever-available can settle a little spirit, soothe a little heart, and stop the flow of tears down a little face? This has worked wonders in the early weeks of Kindergarten, when little ones are feeling lonesome for home and mommy. I ask, "Do you need a hug?", and the torrent of tears on my shoulder washes the loneliness away so that my little charge is free to play and explore. It's always nice to affirm what they're feeling: "It's frustrating when your sister wrecks your drawing" or "It hurts when someone bites you".
With that hug, and those words, comes the affirmation:
"It's alright to cry...crying gets the sad out of you..."