Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Mommy, you don't cry..."

In college I was introduced to the Myers Briggs personality test.  After Bryan and I were married we participated in a marriage class that used our Myers Briggs profiles.  I am an ISTJ meaning that I am a thinker rather than a feeler.  I internalize things and think them through rather than react out of feeling or emotion.  Generally, I am not an emotional person.  I rarely cry which is a pretty big joke in my husband's family since they are all criers.  

Apparently Reese has never seen (or noticed) me cry.  Today (Sunday) was a tough day.  The stress got to me and I broke down.  I'll spare you the details.  I have tried to keep things as normal and stress free as possible for Reese.  That, however, has proven to be near impossible.  He is a smart kid and picks up on much more than we give him credit for.  As I stood in the bedroom sobbing, Reese (as is typical with his precious spirit) wanted to console me.  He kept saying he was sorry for hurting my feelings.  I tried to explain to him that he had not hurt my feelings, but that Mommy and Daddy are sad and ready to be home too.  I told him that sometimes things are hard for Mommy and Daddy too and that makes us cry.   

Soon after this we started outside to get in the car.  Reese and I were outside for a few minutes before Bryan came out.  As I was putting him in his car seat he said, "Mommy, you don't cry.  You are a grown up and grown ups don't cry."  My heart sank a little bit.  I want my son to know that women can be strong.  I want him to learn to love and respect women.  I want him to know that men can be strong and caring.  I want him to strive to be a strong, caring, and respectable man.  I want him surround himself with strong, caring, and respectable people.  Where I missed the mark though is teaching him that being strong also means being real.  

Strong people love and with love comes hurt.  No one can handle everything on their own.  It takes a strong person to be able to cry and deal with the hurt and frustration that comes with this life.  We weren't intended to live this life alone.  God made it clear that he created Eve to give Adam a helper (Genesis 2).  He needed someone to share this life with.  The ups and the downs of life, the good and the bad.  God also made it clear that no one is expected to handle everything thrown at them with no emotion.  Even Jesus, our ultimate example, had his moments.  When he saw the state that his dear friend Lazarus was in he cried(John 11).  He even asked his father to intervene in His time of struggle and take the struggle from Him (Matthew 26).  

If my goal is to teach my boys to be like Jesus, then have I really taught them well?  Jesus himself had moments where he showed strength in weakness, so to speak.  With that in mind I need to be real with Reese.  He needs to see that Mommy and Daddy sometimes need to let it out.  We need to allow ourselves to feel and to hurt, openly.  We need to be open about needing strength from our Father to get through the tough things in this life.    We need to cry and we need to talk about why we are crying and how our Lord hears our cries and cares for us.  

I am amazed sometimes at how clueless I really am with the whole parenting thing.  I am even more amazed at how much I learn from my 4 year old.  Personality profile or not, it is my job to teach children to be real and being real means that grown ups, even this Mommy, cry sometimes.  

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