That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

If you’re going to cry, you can go outside …

My dad is a Scotsman. He doesn’t like emotions. He is jolly, or he is angry, or he is asleep. I, on the other hand, cry over advertisements. I have excused myself from the ending of many a Neighbours episode at the hint of a teary goodbye and that god-awful Angry Anderson song “Suddenly”.

As I grew up, I tried very hard to keep a lid on my leaky face. People don’t take too kindly to criers. We’re weak; we’re contagious; we’re embarrassing. I guess I came to believe this from growing up under the parentage of a dad who may one day have on his tombstone: “If you’re going to cry, you can go outside.”

As a career girl, I avoided meetings with my manager which required me to be assertive, as there was always that chance that my lip would start wobbling and I would lose myself and the tears would fall. It’s hard to salvage your reputation once the tissue box comes out. “No really, we do need more staff … “ (sob, sob).

My eldest boy cries at the drop of a hat. Sometimes he cries because he wants to ask a question, but thinks I will say ‘No’. I try to talk him around, explain that he should always ask, I might say yes, I might say no, but there is no harm in asking. But still, the tears. Sometimes, tears and dropping to the floor in a tragic, floppy mess. Sometimes, door slamming followed by shouty, incomprehensible tears. It’s hard to know what to do. He won’t take cuddles. Sometimes I just have to ignore him, as occasionally the tears are out of proportion. But I wonder what kind of message that sends? Is ignoring as bad as asking him to take it outside?

This week a friend of our family died. It was quick and unexpected. Although I didn’t know the man well, he had worked with my dad and one of my brothers for over a decade. Through their working relationship he became like a second father to my brother, so much so that he was to give a speech at the man’s funeral.

I visited big brother at mum’s house after the funeral to wish him a happy birthday for the day before. Dad had already told me that brother had tried to give the speech, but he couldn’t: he was blubbering.

When I saw brother, he stood and was happy to see me and my entourage of happy little men. But he wasn’t really up for visitors. He kept returning to the couch to lie down. He was like a tall tree felled in the woods, lying flat and heavy and still. Not talking. Not crying. Very still.

I feel for my big brother. He was apologetic for breaking down and not giving his tribute. I found I couldn’t talk to him about it, for fear of blubbering. Instead mum and I lingered near him with wet eyes, and said very little.

I can’t help but wonder what he wanted to say about this man who had passed, but I think his tears at the funeral speak volumes. I wish I could say that to him now.

Do feelings take up a lot of space in your house? When you cry, do you take it outside?

11 Responses to “If you’re going to cry, you can go outside …”

  1. Life In A Pink Fibro

    Oh this is so sad. All the more sadder for the repressed emotion. Mr7 cries at the drop of a hat. Annoyingly so. I tend to tell him to take it outside. But I’m thinking I won’t do that anymore…

  2. keepcatebusy (Cate)

    I very rarely let anyone see if I am upset over something. But the older I get I realise that this is actually a weakness, not a strength. The ability to face up to your vulnerabilities takes a lot more courage than simply covering them up does.

  3. jac

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your family friend Karen. I always find it astounding that anyone can give a eulogy without crying and that people that can are congratulated and somehow perceived as stronger. I too have always been a crier and realise that my just turned 3 year old daughter has inherited the gene. Thank goodness death isnt an issue we have had to deal with yet. Last week I took her to the movies to watch the new Disney version of Rapunzel. My poor little poppit sobbed very loudly in both the sad and happy parts of the movie. So much so, that we had people coming up to us once the movie was over asking if she was okay and then all of a sudden I saw her feel embarassed about her crying for the first time. I guess she has many more years to learn to live with what you nicely term her ‘leaky face’. If she is like her mummy she will spend to many years denying her crying and then eventually she wont give a damn when she is the ‘leaky face’ mum at her kids kinder concerts!

  4. Lucy

    Your poor brother. That is so sad. It has made me cry, reading that.

    I am of the “let the tears flow” school. Mine were repressed as a child – so I am probably a little too free with my indulgence of tears now, for myself, and from my children.

  5. the rhythm method

    Thanks for your comments.
    Jac, I sympathise completely. She will sort it out gradually, I hope she doesn’t put a lid on it too firmly. So important to have emotional intelligence, and to feel it’s OK to take the lid off when you need to.

  6. Bree DeRoche

    Wonderful, Karen. I love the parallel between your son and your brother, and that sadness of your brother not being able to let his emotions go (so common for our poor boys who society won’t permit to cry).

  7. Toushka

    wow. I think we were separated at birth. The whole talking to a manager at work thing, and the crying at commercials and that song “suddenly” omg. totally. me.
    I blubbed my way through my wedding vows and I so did my husband. I avoid situations where I might cry – sometimes to my detriment. I cannot express myself verbally because I might cry. I am welling up right now. I can’t watch any animal shows, animal rescue, bondi vet. I still get upset about a penguin doco I saw 15 years ago. I used to blame it on the pregnancy hormones, but that only lasts so long. I am a big wuss. My son hates it when I cry and starts crying himself. which breaks my heart. He says “I want your happy”. cute.

  8. MultipleMum

    Another gorgeous post. I am a teary person, mostly about sentimentality and romance. I feel for your brother. Being “a man” is such a hard role sometimes. I went to funeral late last year for a friend who died of breast cancer. It was such a sad day, we all blubbed our way through it. I was amazed at the strength displayed by her family though. Three out of four spoke without tears. Thanks for Rewinding. I will have a think about how I manage the kids’ tears a bit more now x

  9. Shelley

    This is a post close to my heart this week, as I’ve been crying a lot – mainly over the phone to my Mum. Unfortunately it’s not always in a good way, as my Mum shows no emotion towards anything, and sometimes my tears are out of frustration at her lack of emotion. But I’m learning, finally – in my mid 30’s that we all express and feel things differently. Visiting from the Rewind.

  10. Bye bye, Nonno | the rhythm method

    […] service given predominantly in Italian, lots of unfamiliar and solemn faces, plus the burden of my own leaky face despite only having met Joe a handful of times. Relief found me in the cool of the foyer, in a […]


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