After a difficult phonecall this week I was in left in tears and left with a quandary - should I let my daughter see I was crying. She's only a baby but she can definitely tell when I'm upset, getting upset herself at the sight of me crying.
Parents are supposed to be strong and capable of anything. We are the sorter-outers not the quivering wrecks. And though I'm good in a crisis I'm a crier the rest of the time.
The first time I cried in front of my daughter was during one of our nights in hospital when in the middle of the night, both of us beaten by attempts to get my breasts to work, I sat on the bed with her in my arms and we both bawled, possibly for hours. But that was us against the world together. This time it was her normally happy encouraging mummy having a moment. And while children need to learn that not everything goes well all the time, some problems in the adult world should be kept adult.
So all I could do was brush the tears away, force my voice to normal and get on with our day. And because nothing else actually matters to me as much as the wellbeing of my family, this made me feel better anyway.
Wow - it's a powerful protection having a family. I felt it when I met my husband, and remember thinking that if things went badly at work or in friendships or anywhere else, it was okay now because someone loved me and I loved them and that's what mattered. And now the baby is here that feeling has multiplied.
This protection makes everything else less powerful and I think sometimes people sense that and can feel threatened by it. They can only hurt you a little bit, unless they hurt your family also. It's why films are right when good people will do bad things if the baddies have their child or their partner. I had always thought this was just a cheap plot device, but I see now that it is true. For you are there to protect your family, but they protect you too. Which means there should have been no need to question whether my daughter should see me cry, because there really was no need to cry in the first place.
(Now I just have to put this into practise. I am a crier. From sad things on the telly to stubbing my toe to thinking about mortality to seeing a pretty picture to having a frustrating conversation with someone being stupid. I must learn to take my own advice.)