It's ok to cry
It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I was having a meltdown. I was tired, the PMT was raging, and I had just endured a spat with Mr Chateauneuf over some nonsense. So all I wanted to do was to crawl into bed and hide under the duvet – like any mature grown up would do.
I sat on the bed with my eyes streaming, smudging mascara all over my face which made me look like an extra from a medieval movie playing a peasant woman who hasn’t seen water in months. And that’s exactly how my stepson, DeeQ, found me.
They say that men can’t deal with tears. When faced with a crying woman they get lost, start mumbling ‘there, there’ and frantically look for a way out. As soon as they see an opening in a form of a ringing phone or even better – another woman who can take over – they are off like greased lightning.
Amazingly, DeeQ didn’t exhibit any signs of discomfort. He simply sat next to me stroking my back, murmuring words of comfort. He then brought me a drink and suggested I sort out my face because the dirty look did not go well with my complexion.
As I eventually managed to pull myself together, DeeQ brought me a cup of camomile tea, an ice pack for my face, and chatted to me about this really cute girl at school, while I was blow-drying his hair. It was one of the best calm down techniques I have ever experienced.
Later that weekend we were having a family dinner – our usual combination of roast dinner, negotiations over eating vegetables (or eating full stop with Little Dude) and making plans. As we started talking about summer holidays, DeeQ suddenly went quiet and covered his face with his hands. I instantly knew what happened – something jogged a memory of his mum.
I walked around the table and put my arms around him. He was crying, he was back on a sunny beach – the last holiday he had with his mum.
We all made an effort to distract him, to make him laugh and dry out his tears; minutes later he was laughing again and we all returned to our dinner.
I was watching him over the brim of my wine glass. He was my brave boy who the day before brought me an ice pack for my face and made me tea, who sat next to me, stroking my back while I was having a meltdown. But he was just a boy who lost his mum way too early and had to grow up way too fast.
And listening to his laughter I couldn’t help but wonder, if the life experiences change us and make us grow, then how much did DeeQ have to grow? Just how much of innocence was he deprived of on that fateful night? How much did he change?
Lost in my thoughts, I automatically went to touch the ring I wear as a charm around my neck, the ring that belonged to my late mum.
It occurred to me that despite the trauma of losing his mum way too early and having to grow up way to quickly, DeeQ chose life. He allows himself to cry and learnt to comfort others; he talks about his own experiences and is able to hold a conversation with somebody who recently lost a loved one; he grieves his mum but he accepted me. He became a mature interesting boy; he stood tall and strong; he rose above the grief and didn’t let it hold him back.
And as I heard another burst of laughter from across the table, my eyes welled up. And it wasn’t sadness this time, they were happy tears – the tears of a proud stepmum.