I tucked my daughter in to bed last Sunday with more than a little relief. It had been a berserk weekend of running around with her in a dance competition, kid birthday parties, and soccer practices for her brother. As I quickly planted a kiss on her forehead and squished Sparkle the cat in her armpit, she said something that squeezed my heart.
“Mommy, thank you for crying happy tears for me today…”
I am a walking emotion. I feel things. Big and little things. Like when music surges and when mother nature shines. This means inevitably when I see kids putting their heart into something, my tear ducts get squeezed and I cry happy tears. I’m okay being called a sap. I like that Santa Claus parades with pick up truck floats full of waving five year olds gives me a lump in my throat. I embrace that a shy proud smile on a kid who tried something new and was praised makes me have to blink hard and fast.
My daughter dances. She says it makes her heart “energied” and happy. When it was time for her first performance in her first competition I was the mom sitting there with tears streaming down my face. Unabashedly so. I know how hard she works, and I know she wanted to do her best for the team. Such earnest, heartfelt effort is raw for me. She doesn’t second guess or talk herself down. She doesn’t wonder what people are thinking, doesn’t worry how she looks. She trusts that her best is more than enough and knows I am cheering no matter what.
So I sit there crying when I see my kids experiencing new things and growing as people. I fiercely protect their blossoming self esteem and defend their right to believe trying their best is good enough. In the end I have to admit that the happy tears are cut with a dash of sadness. All too soon they will run up against cynical critical creatures who feel better when they judge and compare. I can only hope the enthusiasm and heart I see them apply to what they do now remains intact and they can tell themselves “onwards.”