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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why don't grown ups cry?

Recently you said to me "Why don't grown ups cry? Why don't you ever cry?"
Amazed, I said "I cry! You've seen me cry."
You said, "Have I?" And again, incredulous, "Have I?"

I have sat down on the floor beside you and sobbed, from tiredness or grief or anger or hunger or because my blood burned with sugar. I have cried from hopelessness, because I am terrible at motherhood, because loving you hurts. Because I used to be one thing, and then when you were born there was a tearing, a splitting, like antarctica calving an iceberg, you split from the continent and I lost a part of myself and I must bear that loss over and over. You have borne witness to two pregnancies, and overfilled I leaked tears. You have seen me cry in public, in cities all over the world, in Paris by the Seine, in London as we crossed the street, in Helsinki, in Hong Kong. I have cried because you have used up all my oxygen with your hunger and your need and your love. I have cried because you would not sleep, would not eat, would not leave, would not stay. I have cried reading you sad stories and watching movies with you on my lap. From love and from pride, from exhaustion of feelings, I have cried.

It is a strange trick of your memory that you have forgotten all this. For the first time I wonder if you have repressed these memories, if you have actively chosen to forget. Or perhaps the mind cannot hold what it cannot process, the impossibility of a mother who melts like snow. Perhaps this is why grown ups don't cry.