This week my youngest son began his senior year in high school.  As is our tradition, I took first-day-of-school pictures, and my other two kids (both now in their twenties) joined in.  Being a sentimental sap, I cried big tears.  Was it because my baby was growing up?  Yep.  Because his senior year was going to be dramatically different due to COVID?  For sure.  Were the tears fatter because my older kids understood the importance of this family tradition?  Absolutely.  And I’m so grateful that they humored me (and maybe liked???) our group family hugging circle, where my snot flowed as freely as my crocodile tears.  They’re used to this type of reaction from me, so they just smiled and hugged me right back, sending my heart into a bigger explosion of love

Now, let’s throwback to nearly two years ago when I learned that I was allergic to the proteins found in dairy and would have to give up my beloved cheese.  I cried ugly tears then, too.  Cheese had been my go-to when I needed a snack to tide me over, as well as often a huge focus of my vegetarian meals.  Back in the ’90s I put myself through college working at a French restaurant, where chicken alfredo, a salad with creamy dill dressing, and delicious brie spread on a warm baguette were staples of my life.  As silly as it sounds, I absolutely mourned this loss after the lab results came back.

While these stories are wildly different in reasons why I’ve shed tears, they highlight the main reasons why we cry: happiness or sadness.  But what about the other times?

I have also cried when I knew something was right.  I’m not talking about choosing paint colors.  This is about when we know we’re on the right path.  When we know in our bones that this is what we’re supposed to be doing.  I’ve experienced this a few times in my life, the most recent of which is when I came up with the depth and scope that will be my wellness membership.  I was sitting at my desk when the idea formed.  Standing in my daughter’s doorway, tears began streaming down my face when I recited all of the glorious details.  The tears were real and valid.

So in case you need to hear this, if you’re an emotional person like me, there’s no shame in crying, regardless of your gender.  In the past, I was in a toxic relationship where I was ridiculed for crying and led to believe it was a sign of weakness.  That was that person’s upbringing that caused that opinion, but it left a huge mark on me.  Tears don’t show weakness.  In fact, I’d argue that they show immense strength because it’s exceptionally brave to be vulnerable.   Whether you sob at commercials or because you’re just overcome with gratitude, allow those tears to flow, my friend.  The world needs more softness.  And I’ll happily share my box of tissues with you.