Yesterday, Christacular and I went to visit our friends, the Copelands, at UNC-CH Children's Hospital. Sweet baby Clark is doing much better, and yesterday they had removed most of her tubes and she was able to have her first bottle.
I melted a little when I touched her sweet baby toes.
I kinda wanted to smell her feet a little.
Is that weird? I don't think it's weird.
I don't really care if you think it's weird.
They were little precious little miniature toes peeking out from her blanket.
We had a nice visit with our friends, full of laughs that only parents of broke and semi-broke children could share (and only laughs that come when Bertie, Chocowinity, and Jacksonville people are reunited). Afterwards, Chris and I went over to Southpoint and window shopped through Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel, and Williams and Sonoma (cue heavenly music) before stopping at California Pizza Kitchen to share a BBQ chicken pizza with pineapple (heavenly music still playing).
It was a very good day.
Most of the time my husband is very witty, sarcastic, and full of jokes. But there is also a side to him that a lot of people don't see. It's the side of him that comes out when he watched those first few episodes of "Extreme Home Makeover" when the families would see their homes for the first time, or after the first ten minutes of "Up" ('what kind of children's movie is this???') It's that thoughtful side, that compassionate side, that emotional side.
It's a side that a lot of men don't want to talk about, and it's a side a lot of us choose to ignore.
But last night, we were almost home and this relatively popular song came on the radio:
It's a sweet little song about a life cut short. Chris said, "I like this song, but it makes me sad sometimes." And when I asked him why, he said, "'Just because it reminds me of Ayden."
I was shocked into silence after those seven words.
Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that Ayden's short life had a profound impact on my husband. He went to the emergency room that day thinking he was going to find a sick baby, only to walk in to witness the worst scene imaginable. He doesn't talk about it much, but it was a very, very bad day.
This morning I keep thinking about what he said, and why it surprised me to hear his statement. I guess I just assumed, like a lot of people, that he would compartmentalize his emotions for that event and then move forward. I don't think my husband is a heartless and emotionless person (I know for a fact that that's not the case), but he's a man, and men generally keep these things to themselves.
But the truth is, men's emotions are pretty powerful. It's the reason they get that stupid grin on their faces when they see their girlfriends all dressed up for a date. It's the reason they snap when someone says something inappropriate to their wives. It's the reason they get a little teary when they hear those bagpipes at a funeral.
We just tend to lump them into this neanderthal category.
We shouldn't be surprised when men cry. We shouldn't be uncomfortable when their voices crack. We shouldn't be shocked into silence when they share their emotions.
And yet we are.
Your spouse, your boyfriend, your son, your father has a lot of emotions tucked inside that charming and thick exterior. They may not want to show them, but we know they are there. We know that life gets to them sometimes, and we need to allow them to share how they're feeling without judgement or ridicule. Ladies, you need to support your men when they talk about these things. You need to let them know that you appreciate their honest and raw emotions just as much as you appreciate their ability to be tough when you're the basket case.
In the next few weeks, three men I know are getting ready to walk through a season of remembering their losses. One lost a son, one lost a wife, and one lost a dad. They may or may not want to talk about it. They may or may not feel that they can talk about it. But we don't need to act like they are odd or weird if their emotions leak through their eyes. We need to recognize that their hurts are just as deep as the females in their families. We need to give them space to share their emotions.
We need to allow them to be strong through the shedding of their tears.