Last week my son made me cry. One sentence, spoken in jest. A teenager taking a chance at pointed humor. It hit hard, I blinked back tears and left the kitchen. A whole flight of stairs and a retreat to my bed didn’t save me from feeling bad.
OK. It was the second time he had made me cry, but the first time he won’t remember and it really doesn’t count. He was only a baby. After he had learned to stand – but not steadily! – I was holding him on my lap facing outwards and as he bucked his head flew backwards he cracked his head right into my lip. Much blood, substantially more tears.
Last week he was standing steadily in our kitchen. We had just finished a meal as a family. We were all joking around, and I was going down the list of things to still accomplish that evening. I had seen from the outset that the week we were standing in was going to be a bear. I had planned just about every waking moment and could easily, through my years of event planning and project management, stack the tasks in such a way that no duplicate effort would have to take place. For four people, over six days. I had experience behind me.
Personal objectives, professional challenges, HR meetings, details to finalize for a fundraiser for a treasured charity, preparations for the first floor of our home to be on tour, the yard and garden to make presentable for those who decided to tour, two dozen desserts to make. The list was endless, and I had made it so.
I was partway through that evening’s litany – one phrase included the statement, “we don’t have a lot of time this week” – when he said something along the lines of, “Yeah. That’s a lot, but I only have one summer to be seventeen.”
He was right. I had crammed so much into a week in preparation for the busy weekend that I had forgotten what was important. A touch of fun. A relaxed schedule. Freedom. You know, summer. As a teenager lives it.
His comment slapped me hard. I welled up, mumbled something, and took off. I wasn’t wanting him to follow me and apologize, which he did later. I just wanted to be alone.
When he found me in my room, he quickly said he was sorry for making me cry. His voice betrayed his sadness. I never made eye contact with him but told him that I was OK and would be downstairs later. He accepted that quietly, stated again that he was sorry, stood there a while longer, tapped the bed with his hand and left the room.
We didn’t see each other much the next day due to his work schedule and mine. Time passed, and I stewed in the guilt of not ever really accepting his apology for making me cry.
Two days later, while the two of us were at breakfast alone, I told him I was sorry for upsetting him the other night but not for crying. I believed he needed to see my tears. He tried to apologize again, and I touched his arm and he stopped. I told him he had been correct. That time was flying by and that I had been – at that time – focused on things that were calling to be finished. I told him that the truth hurts sometimes.
To speak it and to hear it.