The Year is Complete!

Please feel free to look back through the 365 days of 2010 sunrises, but "a year of getting up to meet the day" is officially completed. There will be no more new posts.


Thank you so much for visiting.
A one year blog project in which I share a process of transitions: emptying of the nest, reacquainting with my rusty intellect, plowing onward with my first full length book, entering the second half of my first century, and generally reflecting on life.

(see Dec. 29th, 2009 entry for further explanation)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

sometimes you just let them cry

sunrise:  6:51
another working morning -

I had a daughter in tears the other day.  Whether in person or on the phone, to have one of my children in tearful sadness creates small explosions of response inside of me.  I feel sad, angry, frustrated on their behalf, frustrated on my behalf, and I search frantically for a solution.  I want to make it all better.

One of the things I continue to learn over time is to accept the fact that there isn't always a way to fix my children's troubles.  Not only that, but much of the time they don't even want me to fix them.  They just need a secure place to let off steam, get it out, and move on.  Sometimes you just have to let them cry.

I feel that inclination to instruct, look at the bright side, reason, cajole, suggest alternatives -- all potentially worthy strategies from time to time, but not always.  Sometimes the best thing is just to acknowledge their sadness.  "I'm so sorry."  "That is so hard."  Maybe a hug, or simply silent understanding.

It's so difficult, as a mom, to just let their sorrow wash over me without trying to make repairs.  I heard an illustrative story of a phone call from college student to a parent. The daughter called late one night, filled with despair and anger and tears of frustration that poured forth across the phone lines.  The poor mom lay awake for hours afterwards.  She waited the next day until the afternoon to call her daughter back again, fretting and worrying all day about how she was doing.  "Hi Honey, are you all right?"  a pause..."What do you mean?"  For the daughter, the torrent of the previous night is a thing of the past.

When my husband and I moved our four children up here to Maine from central Massachusetts almost eight years ago, they were not happy.  The move was one of those unexpected turns in life, and the departure for young people ages 10, 13, 13, and 15 was painful.  

Two memories: 
The first came a few months before the move.  I was settling my 13 year old son to bed, and he talked about how hard it was to think about leaving.  "Mom, I know I'll make new friends and do new things, but I like my OLD friends and the things HERE...and...I wanted to bring my kids to visit you and Dad in this old house!"  There came the tears, and what could I say to that reasoned expression of grief?  I don't believe I was capable of speaking in that moment even had I cared to try.

On the night we drove off for the last time, we spent the day and evening with a friend who had a pool, a cookout, and a sunny disposition.  Then it was time to go.  We decided it might be good to let the kids say one more goodbye to the house they had loved so much.  We stopped by for a final walk through before leaving town. 

Suffice it to say that I can remember no other time in our lives when all four children were sobbing quite so wrenchingly all at the same time.  As we watched them melt down from a distance, J. spoke quietly to me with mock enthusiasm:  "Great idea!"  I had to laugh (with tears in my eyes), but I still believe it WAS a good idea.  Crying can be cathartic, and cleansing, and allows you, then, to just move on.

But I know, it still hurts.


  1. So true. I remember first having to learn this lesson (a fix it person, make it better previously) when my first daughter had colic. Nothing stopped the crying, but we would hold her and walk up and down the hall. To this day, when hearing out my kids' wails or raging or anxieties, I fight panic at not being able to make it better. And yet they all head for me when upset, and say it comforts them. To be heard and loved no matter what. In our family, the supreme effort for us parents comes from NOT giving the obvious advice or (sometimes well deserved) lecture, but rather just listening. I don't always hold my tongue,tho! Seldom wrong and never in doubt!

  2. I can hear Jonathan say "Great idea!" as clearly as if he were saying it right now, in my kitchen.