It's okay to cry...

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 02, 2020
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I have always been an emotional and sentimental person.

When I was young, I teared up at every touching scene at the movies. I felt a lump in my throat when I heard songs with lyrics that spoke to my heart. I cried when I had an argument with my mum or the then-boyfriend, knowing that it would not help to solve things at all. It's not that I am frail - I like to think I am pretty tough after three births without epi and 11 years of being a stay-at-home mum. It's just that crying has been, and still is, a way for me to release stress, to feel and let go of my emotions, to be better able to pick myself up and emerge stronger after.

Thus, when I heard myself saying recently to one of the kids "Why must you cry over such a small thing?", I wanted to give myself a big, hard kick afterwards. In the first place, what is trivial in my eyes, like not being able to find a pair of socks or forgetting where they put one particular pencil even though there are dozens of others, might be a huge matter to them, especially in that very moment. Who am I to judge or to tell them they ought to hold it in instead of letting it out? Of all people, I should understand not just because I've been through it but also because I'm their mum a.k.a the person they trust most in the world.

It really got me thinking for quite some time. Still, I didn't sit down to have a talk with them on this subject. That was, until this incident happened.

Remember how I used up days of time and thousands of pearls to make personalised portraits for the girls? Yup, each one consisted of 3,600 pearls and was a handmade gift of love that I wanted to present to my kids. Anyway, thanks to the circuit breaker, I had more free time on my hands and decided to finally snap out of my procrastination after all these years and do one for the boy too. He was so eager to see his face coming together and even helped me out with it. Holding a tweezer in one hand, he sat right beside me as we picked out the colours one by one and meticulously placed them side by side.

It took us a few days to do it but I was so happy when we saw the final piece. At long last, we were going to put this into a frame and display it right beside his sisters. My babies, my gems, my precious little ones.

The thing is, in order to hold the beads together, you have to stick this gigantic square piece of super sticky double sided tape behind them. This is how you will eventually stick all of them onto a board which will form as the backing in your frame. I always found this difficult but somehow, time and again, I had managed to complete it one way or another.

Just when I was trying to peel off that gigantic double sided tape and stick the boy's portrait onto the board, what happened was that one corner folded backwards and that was when one thing led to another. The tape stuck onto each other and I could NOT peel them apart no matter how hard or how long I tried. Soon after, the pearls started to fall out one after another and I had no idea which came from where. How could I? It was a case of the more I tried, the worse it became, which kind of reminds me of the bad days in parenting, doesn't it? Subsequently, the sticky mess got bigger and bigger until at one point, I knew it couldn't be salvaged.

It was at this time that I picked up the sticky mess, held it in my hand and felt the tears welling up in my eyes. Before I could stop myself, they were rolling down my cheeks and dripping onto the table. When the kids came up and saw what happened, I tried to brush away the tears but no, they just kept on coming. Yup, crying is just not something you can start or stop promptly at the snap of your fingers. I remember how my mum used to tell me to stop crying and I would adamantly reply "I can't. I have to finish crying first."

Perhaps it was the suddenness of witnessing how my days of hard work was ruined. Of seeing how my boy's face got shattered into pieces. Of realising how I had to fix the mess and start all over again. Or perhaps it was just an opportunity for me to let it all out. The frustration, the stress, the sense of loss that comes with motherhood, with solo parenting, or with the circuit breaker. I don't really know.

What I do know is I felt much better after that.

Yup, crying has been scientifically proven to make you feel better. So why stop it? Regardless of how society perceives it to be, I like to think that crying is a sign of strength rather than weakness. It takes great strength to show that you are vulnerable, especially in front of others. Also, if someone cries before you, it's likely because you are someone he/she loves, trusts and values.

I don't think my kids cry much in front of others, but in front of me, they do. They cry when they are sad, when they are worried, when they are angry, when they are scared, when they are hurt. It's natural. It's normal. The last thing I want is for them to think that it's wrong.

So what happened afterwards?

Well, let's just say my girls came to my rescue. They saw everything but they didn't say much and they didn't ask much. Even when my initial reaction was to blame them for distracting me and indirectly cause the mistake (yup, how mean of this mum), they remained quiet and not defensive. When the little brother came up being his chirpy and inquisitive self as usual, the big sisters told him "Didi, Mama is sad. Don't ask her so many things first."

Then, they sprung into action and told me they could help to fix my mistake. Each of them took a pair of tweezers and started to remove the beads one by one from the sticky mess. It wasn't a swift or easy task for an adult, not to mention for a kid. The tape would leave behind residue on every of the bead and after taking them apart, we had to use wet wipes to carefully scrape and clean every of them so that they would not stick together afterwards and could be reused. We did this nearly 1,000 times because there was just so many of them. Yup. For hours and hours, we did it together.

That was the beauty of it all. From a project that I wanted to undertake myself to one that became a collective effort and a labour of love, it just makes me cherish not just the final artwork, but the process of creating it even more. Looking at it reminds me of the effort and tears but beyond that, it's more about the love I have for my kids and the love they have for me.

That night, we sat down and talked about how it was okay to cry. It really is. The important thing is after letting it all out, you pick yourself up, see things in a different light, decide how best to move on, be strong and resolute when you try again, and remind yourself that your loved ones are always, always there for you. No matter what happens.

Thank you, my dears, for being there for me.


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