It’s Alright to Cry
A week before we were to leave for a twelve day East Coast whirlwind trip, my younger son got sick. Not scary hospital sick, but he spiked a fever and for six days that fever hung on. His doctor wasn’t concerned, it was a virus. But I was worried. This fever just wouldn’t quit. And, I didn’t want to end up in an ER on our trip (or anywhere for that matter). Since he’d only just turned five, having him home meant I was on 100% of the time. When sick, it was 150%. Any mother will tell you.
My older son was eight and self-sufficient. Together, still today, my boys act like brothers. Sometimes they ignore each other and do their own thing, sometimes they play and giggle and have a blast and sometimes they fight. And that’s just a giant pain-in-the-ass despite being normal. When one is sick, it’s worse. One wants to rest and have mom all to himself; the other is jealous but also bored. One wants popsicles and TV, the other wants to go out and play and have popsicles and TV. There’s conflict, tears, fatigue. It’s a regular laugh riot.
I had planned to use that week to get ready, doing things ranging from trips to Costco, to writing, to meeting with my editor, to laundry, to even spending a moment or two alone. To top it off, three days in, I caught the mystery virus. I pretty much catch everything; I have a weakened immune system due to a chronic illness. That is just my reality. But, I cannot bring myself to stay out of my son’s bed when he’s sick with fever or needs cuddling. I’m his mom. That’s also my reality.
I was feeling lousy one afternoon, exhausted, sick, needing comfort but encouraged that my son seemed to be on the mend. Wanting to capitalize on his energy, I had him sitting at the table, coloring, trying to get some food in him, and take a break from television. My older boy was in his room playacting and doing Star Wars Legos.
I was not faring so well. I felt awful. I kept trying to reach my husband. He was going out that night to a concert. I wasn’t going to ask him to cancel. Had it just been beers with a friend, I might have, but this was a special event for him. But, I needed to just whine a little, talk for a few minutes. I needed to hear him say “I’m sorry sweetie.” And I figured I’d cry a little, let it out, and then get through the rest of my day. When I got him on the line, finally, I burst into tears. I was so tired. And, I was really crying. It just all hit me. My kids had seen me cry before and always reacted with concern and compassion but what happened next was astounding.
My five year old jumped up from his coloring. “Theo, Theo, come quick! We have to cheer up Mom!”
“Here I come Lucas! What’s going on? Mom, Mom, sit down. C’mere, it’s OK.”
Meanwhile, I was on the phone with my husband but was so overwhelmed by this I started crying even harder. I couldn’t speak. They raced to their rooms. One came back with his blankie; the other a pillow.
“Here Mom, it’s OK.” Hugs all around, kisses, murmurs of support.
“It’s OK Mom, you’ll feel better soon.”
“I know, Mom, it’s hard to be sick.”
My husband told me he loved me. “Sounds like you’re in good hands dear,” he said. “Feel better.” We hung up and my eldest guided me to his room. “Mom,” my wise eight year old said, “I’m going to play ‘It’s Alright To Cry’ for you and let’s just sit on my bed and listen to it. It will help Mom.” And he put in the CD of “Free To Be You And Me.”
And I sat with him on his little twin bed, and cried.
Rosey Grier sang:
It’s alright to cry
Crying gets the sad out of you
It’s alright to cry
It might make you feel better.
And I did. And I felt blessed and loved and, yes I felt better.