I used to cry during sad movies. I'm big enough to admit it. Movies still make me cry. I think the first movie I cried through was The Velveteen Rabbit and I fully blame Mrs. Church for showing it to our class in First Grade. I sat there at my desk, watching heartbroken, because the boy had to give up his favorite stuffed rabbit after he got sick. I cried, hiding behind a folder so that my classmates wouldn't see and make fun of me, scared to death at the thought of going anywhere without my favorite stuffed animal. I think I was scarred for life.
It was all downhill from there. Brian's Song in 7th grade reading class - hey, even if you're not a sports fan, that movie will make you cry. Titanic years later. Bawling, sobbing, gasping my way through hours of films, shredding tissues and enduring the snickers and laughing of my friends (and sometimes of significant others.) When Rob and I started dating, I got so tired of hearing the words "you're not crying, are you?" that I would pick an opportune moment in the movie to escape to the restroom to cry in quiet and then wipe my nose and compose myself. (But I did not cry at the end of Field of Dreams and to this day, cannot understand why anyone does. Really, guys?)
But for some reason, my emotional attachment to all things schmaltzy in Hollywood rarely extended to real life. I had a hard time crying when it really meant something to me, personally. If you've seen the movie The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet (yes, it is o.k. that you have seen and even liked that movie,) there is a part where Cameron's character can't cry. She even tries to force herself to cry when she breaks up with her boyfriend (Ed Burns.) It doesn't work. Sometimes, I felt that way. A few years ago, I was telling this to a therapist (yes, I saw a shrink - there is only so much shit in a person's life that they can handle alone and without professional assistance!) and she asked questions and commented on various things relating to my inability to cry at "real" life, rather than just at movies. At this point, I don't even remember what she told me or why she thought I reacted to things that way. I do know that I started to let the emotions of "real" life in a bit more and started to cry a little more at things in my own life, that really mattered. I still cry at movies (and the Cotton commercials still do me in. Oh and there's that Pampers commercial at the holidays where they show all of the sleeping babies and the song, Silent Night is playing in the background... where was I?) Ah, yes... I still cry at movies, but now I cry at real life too.
These days, it goes a bit beyond that. I used to read stories in the news about kids and think "oh, that's sad," or "I hope I never have to worry about that." Then I had kids. Now I can't read about something happening to a little baby girl without internalizing it and thinking about what I would do if that happened to my child. Where I could once read stories with merely a passing interest, I now read sad stories and cry, hoping that as a Mom, I will never have to experience such heartache. I started reading an account from Auschwitz about the sorting that took place when the trains were emptied and felt such unimaginable sorrow at the thought of being separated from either of my girls, just because they are still babies.
You may have heard the line "this hurts me more than it will ever hurt you," that parents sometimes say to their kids when they are grounding them or swatting their behinds for misbehaving. I never truly understood it until I had kids. Now I know what it feels like to discipline and have to face Brooklyn, tears streaming down her face and "deprive" her of something she might have had her heart set on, because she was misbehaving. The act of going through with my punishment is so much harder when faced with those tears. Ten minutes later, she will have moved on to something else, and I will still be haunted by those eyes, welling up with tears and the sounds of her crying. Yes, it does hurt me more than it hurts you.
Sometimes, I just sit back and chuckle at myself. (yes, a good, old fashioned "chuckle.") I am sitting right where I never thought I would be - married (10 years in August!) with two kids, living in a sub-divided neighborhood. Hey, this is what they write country songs about (except we don't have a dog or a pick-up truck.) I must say though that I like the view from here, and things are good. I chuckle about how I ended up here, but also about how my emotions finally caught up to me, thanks to my girls. Some people say that they never truly understood "love" until they had a child. I wonder if I truly ever felt real emotion until they came along. Sure, I cried when a guy would break up with me (sometimes) and I think I cried when we lost at District finals my senior year of high school in basketball, but these days, I cry (when appropriate - and sometimes when it is inappropriate) at life. I cry at friends' weddings and when babies are born. I cry when I get frustrated or when Brooklyn is just too much for me, or when Kensi smacks me in the head with a toy. I cry, hoping that my girls will never have their little hearts broken (although I know that they will) and I cry hoping that I can always be there to help them pick up the pieces. These days, I cry the "mommy tears" - of pain and of joy and sometimes, sheer frustration. I just keep more tissues handy. And yes, I still cry at the movies too.