The Flip Side of Laughter

Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

I arrived home from my retreat yesterday afternoon to an absolutely heart-melting welcome from Simon and my boys. And even though I had only been gone four days it felt simply wonderful to be tucked back into the bosom of my family.

Simon made it clear that even though I was home, I was still on retreat and was not to ‘do’ anything. He also informed me that my calendar was clear and today was for resting, relaxing and accomplishing very little. After the kids left for school this morning I decided that another Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie was in order. I mean, after all, what is a cup of afternoon tea without a little treat beside it?

One of the things I love about having the house to myself is that I get to listen to my own music. And, with Christmas just two weeks away, I decided that my Christmas playlist was exactly what I was in the mood for. I sang along to all my favourites; Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Wintersong’, John Lennon’s ‘War is Over’, Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ and lots more.

As I sang I was aware of snippets of Christmas memories drifting through my consciousness, almost as if I was watching a lovely old home movie. I saw my grandparents, my siblings, much younger versions of my parents and each one of my kids as babies and toddlers. I remembered cute little Christmas sleepers and outfits and I felt exquisitely nostalgic.

Raffi's ChristmasThe nostalgia shifted quickly into a flood of tears when my playlist offered up one of Raffi’s Christmas songs. I was immediately transported back to our Dundas kitchen at Christmastime about seven years ago. We were all in the kitchen decorating gingerbread houses and Raffi’s Christmas CD was playing. As Raffi was the equivalent of a rock star in our house back then, he got plenty of airtime (I am actually pretty sure I could perform, in order, every single song from Baby Beluga!)

Anyway, we were all singing along to Raffi’s Christmas classics when a song I had never heard started to play. It is an original of Raffi’s called ‘A Child’s Gift of Love’. The song just grabbed me by the heart and moved me to tears. I remember Michael, who was 4-years-old at the time, looking at Simon in a kind of panic and asking; ‘what’s wrong with mommy?’

With loving laughter in his voice, Simon assured Michael that there was nothing wrong with Mommy. He told Michael that; ‘Mommy doesn’t just cry when she’s sad, she cries when she’s happy too.’ Michael looked puzzled but seemed to accept Simon’s explanation and went back to his gingerbread house.

I didn’t realize it at the time but Simon was setting the tone for how our kids handle tears- especially women’s tears. He was showing them that he didn’t need to fix me, make me happy, change how I was feeling or shame me for my weakness. He just passed me a Kleenex and gave me an affectionate hug.calvin hug

As I broke down in my kitchen this morning all I could think was; ‘my children sure know about tears now.’ One of the most common refrains in our house is; ‘mom’s crying again.’ And nobody panics. Nobody rushes to my side on their white horse to fix me. I get a hug, a smile and sometimes an affectionate shake of the head for my uber-sentimentality. But nobody’s feathers are ever ruffled by my frequent and healthy outpourings of emotion.

Imagine the boyfriends, husbands and partners these men are going to be because they know how to be with both laughter and tears!

Mom’s crying again.

And the crazy thing is, from one day to the next I never quite know what will trigger a fresh bout of tears; a Raffi song, a Facebook post, a Dr. Suess book, the hug I got from Michael to welcome me home yesterday or the hug I got from Max when I was leaving.

Yes indeed, Mom’s crying again. And she will keep on doing so for all of her days…I mean, after all, tears really are just the flip side of laughter.

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