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Why it's okay for my kids to see me cry

Being okay with tears means to see them, feel them, pay attention to what they are here to teach us but eventually wipe them, smile again and take action where needed.

Why it's okay for my kids to see me cry

"Mama, are you okay? Are you happy now?"

This is what my 2.5-year-old son asked me the other day as he saw me wipe tears from my cheeks. I was having an intense discussion with my husband and for someone sensitive like me, tears trickle down my cheeks quite easily.

My response was, "I am not happy right now. I am a little sad, but I will get happy soon." We hugged each other and he said, "Feel better Mama."

When I was first pregnant, I remember thinking a lot about how much of our emotions we should let our children see. Should they see me and my husband argue? Should they see me cry? Or should I always cry behind closed doors and make up a story about what's going on?

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Today, I have more clarity on these thoughts.

I know I want my children to see all sides of me—of course in an age and emotionally appropriate way. I want them to know that while mommy is typically smiling, happy and positive, there are times when she is sad, angry, anxious and frustrated.

I want them to know this and to see me cry so that they have permission to feel these difficult emotions, too. So that they know they are allowed to cry if they need to—and not be ashamed of it.

I want them to know that there are no bad feelings yet there is bad behavior. It is okay to feel upset when they are not invited to a birthday party but it's not okay to yell at that friend at school the next day. It's okay to feel disappointed when a sibling doesn't share a new toy but it's not okay to hit or say mean words. (This one is, admittedly, a work in progress!)

I want them to feel comfortable taking (responsible) risks for things that matter. I want them to know that it can be disappointing to get a bad grade in a subject that they care a lot about, but I don't want that fear taking over the desire to learn more about that subject.

I want them to raise their hand and question the status quo when a friend invites them to participate in a dangerous activity even though it means they may be rejected by their peer group. Yes, these are all difficult feelings, but often doing the right thing is largely uncomfortable and that's okay.

And then there are tears that come from the harsh realities of life that they will see and feel, too.

Loved ones will be diagnosed with illnesses, family members may have accidents or pass away—these things are incredibly painful. I want my children to be able to give themselves the permission to be with these difficult emotions and to sit with them for as long as they need to. And to know I am always here, ready to love them and comfort them any time of day or night.

I am not suggesting that they wallow in pain or suffering without getting help or taking steps to heal. I'm not suggesting they stop living their lives, but instead, I'm helping to guide them in developing the emotional capacity to experience what shows up with awareness and compassion.

I value these tears because they come from the fact that we are in touch with our own truth, our own ego and our own mind. I have yet to witness anything deep and fulfilling in my life that doesn't come with discomfort whether it is something simple like a camping trip or something deeper like my marriage.

I also believe that often these tears are our triggers to act, to vote, to say no, to switch careers and so on. So, over the years, not only have I learned to accept these difficult patches—but rather embrace them and recognize that I need them to thrive.

I want my children to focus on resilience. I want them to be able to stand up after the fall, to pick up from where they left off, to make repairs when a relationship needs love and connection.

Being okay with tears means to see them, feel them, pay attention to what they are here to teach us but eventually wipe them, smile again and take action where needed. I want my children to know that yes, Mom and Dad will have numerous arguments over the years, but there is so much love there behind any frustrations. I want my husband and I to be able to model healthy dialogue and healing repair that comes with thoughtful communication and lots of hugs.

Because hugs from our kiddos always help, right?

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My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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