Big Girls Do Cry

all about me

My daughter watched me burst into tears yesterday.

It started in the morning when I connected my new printer and couldn’t get it to work. It was incredibly frustrating but I didn’t despair. I still had options. After uninstalling and reinstalling the software on my laptop, I was able to print wirelessly. I did a little happy dance and thought about buying a lottery ticket.

That afternoon, I prepped for homework. No, not my homework. My kids’ homework. They’re 5 and 6. I don’t remember even having homework until junior high (now apparently called middle school) and by that time my parents had already forgotten everything they learned in high school and were completely incapable of helping me (or so they claimed). I also don’t remember anyone warning me about this when I was pregnant. You went on and on about the trials of potty training and not forgetting to leave money from the tooth fairy (and to take the tooth – darn it!) but you glossed right over how I’d have to coach them through worksheets, book reports and projects – in kindergarten.

I like to be prepared so I picked a bunch of photos to print for my daughter’s “All About Me” poster so that she could work on it when she got home. For no apparent reason other than it hates me, my printer suddenly stopped responding to my laptop. I had 15 minutes before I needed to pick up my kids from school and her project (due the next day, of course) depended on photos or else her teacher and class would have to rely on the whimsical drawings of a 5 year old to tell them All About Me, uh, I mean her. For some ego-driven reason that I have yet to delve into, that was unacceptable to me.

After I picked the kids up from school, I tried again. My daughter watched as I begged and pleaded with the computer. She watched me frantically Google Why can’t I print photos for my daughter’s All About Me poster which is due tomorrow!!!!!!! She listened as I mumbled and struggled to hold back the best curse words and settled instead for PG-rated replacements (what the frig! are you freaking kidding me? ay dios mio! for the love of guacamole!).

I’m pretty sure I was on the verge of hyperventilating when my precious baby girl said, “Mommy, I feel bad for you when you feel like this.”

That just pushed me over the edge and I began to sob. I literally put my head in my hands and wailed. “Thank you baby,” I tearfully replied and thought about how painful it was for me to watch her struggle to write her name, put on tights and twirl spaghetti. I knew exactly how she felt.

Something about her kind empathy made it possible for me to let it all out. I could feel the frustration reach its peak and flow out of my body, my shoulders shaking with release.

“Are you crying?” she asked, incredulous. Then she laughed. At me, not with me. I felt better almost instantly.

“Yes baby. I cry lots of times,” I replied.

“You do?” She eyed me suspiciously but then said sincerely, “I cry when I get mad too.”

Let’s be clear, I don’t hide my emotions from my kids. They know when I’m happy, when I’m angry, when I’m frustrated and when I’m blue. The entire neighborhood knows when the dog pees on my daughter’s rug or when my son shoots me with his rubber band gun.  I actually pondered when they were babies if a kid could be hugged and kissed too much. But other than when my grandpa and sister died, I haven’t really cried in front of them. The most they’ve seen is me and their father tearing up during  Super Bowl commercials deeply poignant, intellectual foreign films.

Feeling much better, I sat up a little taller and took a deep breath. I cleared my mind and asked God to send me some serenity and maybe something I hadn’t thought to do. The only other thing I could think of (besides throwing the laptop against the wall, which is always a viable option) was to restart the laptop and printer. Voila! It worked! 

As she worked on her poster, I wondered if we should talk about my meltdown, maybe make it into a bigger discussion about self-esteem, self-compassion or some other self-something.  But it seemed to me that the moment stood for itself. Big girls do cry.


43 thoughts on “Big Girls Do Cry

  1. Great post.

    Listen I’m a highly qualified (well… I got a diploma 30 years ago) IT professional – well I’ve done it as a job but mostly away from the coalface as a “manager” but maintain my professional status through an annual subscription to the professional body that to get into 20 years ago I had to go through some Hogwart’s like interrogation … but simply… “Try switching it on and off” – is always the first Helpdesk response simply because… it often works. Also in my my day on the frontline (in the mid 80s) the second most common entry about what you’d told the customer was to RTFM – Read The F***ing Manual…


  2. My son has just graduated college, and I frankly still resent the homework he had to do from kindergarten onwards. He has pretty severe ADHD, spent the day struggling, and then had to come home and do it all over again. Life became a battleground, and it shouldn’t be. Kids need a break, not 24/7 school work. HE EVEN HAD PROJECTS TO DO FOR GYM!

    OK, I will shut up now.


  3. This makes me smile!! And laugh: “I also don’t remember anyone warning me about this when I was pregnant.” And I also feel compelled to tell you that homework is a huge trigger for me. I’m learning a lot as I go but truthfully, I will always hate homework for too many reasons to list. Good luck!


  4. Oh Karen, I loved this SO much. I could almost feel/see Cadence’s heart “Mommy, I feel bad for you when you feel like this.”
    Our babies are so smart and kind and wonderful. When Tanna was young, I used to get impatient with stupid things. Often she was the little brunt of my temper tantrums to the point where I needed to explain myself and do damage control. Our little key-phrase was, “Mama, are you just tired today?” It was always my clue to slow down, breathe, and put the frustration into the bucket it belonged.
    Thank you so much for writing this and sharing all the parts of you that make you so special to me. xoxoxo


  5. What a beautiful, authentic moment to share with your daughter. And it sounds like you were both fully THERE.

    I also loved that you too are not “Calm Mom” when getting hit with a rubber band gun. Makes me feel like I have company. 🙂


    1. Thank you Marie! There’s nothing funnier than shooting mommy in the butt with a rubber band, unless of course it’s shooting me with a water blaster in the pool. “Why do you get in the pool if you don’t want to get splashed?” he asks. I have no good answer kid. Just deal. 🙂


  6. Recently, after a very bad day/week/month, I had a complete meltdown when my grown daughter made the mistake of asking how I was doing. As I sat sobbing & barely able to even form a word, I found myself apologising to her, for imposing all of my tears on her. Her response? “It’s okay Mom. In fact, it makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one who loses it. I am here for you in the same way you have always been here for me. Just let it go.” It is a good thing to teach our children to release that emotion, regardless of what age they are.


    1. What a great story! I remember being caught off guard the first time I saw my mother-in-law cry and I don’t think I handled it as gracefully. But it made me feel closer to her that she would trust me with her vulnerability. Thanks Lynn!


  7. Such valuable stuff here. Everyone needs a good cry every now and then.

    On a pragmatic note, are you using Windows 8? It’s had notorious print driver issues. Upgrading to Windows 10 maaaay help, but sometimes just going through the “install new printer” process is the only answer. Especially if you have an HP printer. (Don’t ask how I know all this. Let’s just say HP printers don’t bounce when you throw them out of your second story office window.)


    1. It’s funny that you say that because I am using Windows 8 and someone else recommended updating to 10. And, it is an HP printer. The only thing (so far) that can drive me to violence is computer problems! My son had a freak out the other day over something not working right in Minecraft and I thought, “Yup. That’s my boy.” Thanks for the advice! Now I know who to go to if I’m about to destroy something. 😉


      1. DEFINITELY upgrade to 10. It’s easy to do, just look for the little windows looking icon in the bottom right of your taskbar to “reserve” your upgrade. It’s free for existing 7 or 8 users.
        I would bet money that’s the main issue. But yeah, before you go all Gallagher on anything, shoot me a text or something. I’m pretty good at talking others off the ledge. 🙂 xo

        Liked by 1 person

    2. When Christy talks like this, my head hears “blah, blah, oh wow…shiny object…blah, blah”
      What would we do without our techy friends? Christy had to save me when I knocked all sorts of electronic plants over inside her blog. GAH!
      I’m considered “techy” within my work peer group…and that’s just scary.
      A few years ago, I had to plead the 5th when a printer was found broken and abandoned on the floor. I didn’t mean to push it off the desk. Not really 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I give you props for allowing your daughter to see the real you, Karen. After the recent loss I just had, I was breaking down crying on and off for days. At first I tried to sneak away when I would feel tears coming on but eventually I stopped. I just eventually got to a place where I wasn’t afraid to let my kids see me cry. They needed to see me grieve and to understand that it’s ok to break down. It’s safe to let our feelings show in our home and I want them to understand that…no matter the reason. Yes…big girls do cry. What a beautiful lesson you gave your daughter.


    1. We grieve big because we love big. That, my friend, is a lesson to teach our kids. I love what you say about safety because I think a lot of us grew up in homes where emotions felt dangerous and I’ve always been hyper aware of not wanting to scare my kids with emotional outbursts. But mirroring healthy expression of emotion is different and so, so important. Thank you Dawn and I’m so sorry for your loss. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

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