I Am Human: The Importance of Showing Emotion As A Parent

Today I was humbled and reminded that I am human.

While driving home, I called my husband, bottled up with emotion over learnings about a family member’s failing health, but fighting to hold it together. I felt overwhelmed, but couldn’t bring myself to let it all out. I needed to cry, but I was going to have to find the time.

Find time? Am I scheduling a meeting or something?

Why do I do this to myself?

Somehow, for one reason or another, as a result of years of fertility issues and intense work stress, I have come to compartmentalize and separate emotion from life as it is happening at the moment. Oftentimes I cry in the privacy of my shower so that nobody will see me.

During our fertility treatments, when I learned that a treatment had failed, I was devastated. I usually got the news while I was teaching a classroom full of 9-year-olds. My only choice was to somehow remain emotionless.

Yes, I do have the occasional in-the-moment meltdown, but it doesn’t happen often.

I am an open book at times but reserved as hell at other times.

So when my husband asked me why I wasn’t able to cry that day in the car, my response was this, “I don’t want the kids to see me cry. I want to be strong for them, I’ll let it out after bedtime.”

He said, “Meghan, you are trying to be SUPER MOM, but what you really need to do is show our kids that you are human.”

Hellllllo! Wake up, Meghan!

It occurred to me at that moment that I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by “finding time” to let it out. I am not going to raise strong, compassionate men by consciously hiding my emotions from them. Raw vulnerability builds the foundation of human connection.

Why in the world would I PROTECT my kids from seeing my emotions when we are trying to teach them how to be empathetic? It’s absolutely OK and necessary to show emotion. It keeps us connected and grounded as humans.

With that, I took down my wall.

Stopped behind a freight train in town, my emotions broke free and I cried. I sobbed, not just teared up, but sobbed. It was an Oprah style “UGLY CRY” right then and there, grasping the steering wheel and blindly staring at the speeding train as it passed by.

My son reached out for my hand and as I tugged on his pinky finger his response said it all, “Mommy, I can see your sad face.”

As I took off my sunglasses to look back at my boys, tears dripping down my cheeks, staring them both in the eyes, the tears kept on rollin’. . . because I too am human.