Sentimental Fool

These days I travel with wads of Kleenex at the ready. Or toilet paper. Or napkins. I’m tearing up at the drop of a hat. Misty over big things, like my son’s scholarship to college. Over small things, like an innocuous remark.

A photograph may set off a chain reaction – recollections of my boys when they were younger – on their bicycles or playing in the old yard. A line in a book or a scene on television may transport me to a time and place ages ago – to an event, to a feeling, and even the familiar tumble down the rabbit hole of disbelief when I look at my life. At what I find strange, and what I find wondrous.

Weepy

I think about my boys, my marriage, the years that have followed. And I’m weepy.

I think about the future, and I’m wistful.

I consider myself fortunate; I feel relief, I feel pride, I feel appreciation. An important finish line is within view. My kids are alright. They’re better than alright.

Generally, I’m more comfortable with a flippant response, or maintaining a certain remove from the depth of my emotions. But this morning I swam in my own sentimental sap, sitting at a school function that was not graduation. You know, one of those year-end events with no discernible purpose, but we nonetheless show up. As parents, often, it’s just about showing up.

The principal spoke. Kids gave speeches. The adults fidgeted on wooden bleachers while the students squirmed in seats on the gym floor. But we were there – hot, tired, and dutifully present – turning off cell phones, snapping pictures, recording videos, and applauding our kids.

Looking at success

And I fought back tears.

I fought back tears when I saw all those young faces. I fought back tears as we saluted the flag. I fought back tears as I listened to a boy tell of the grandmother who raised him. I fought back tears when a student reminded us of Edison’s take on achievement; it wasn’t one thousand failures that came before the light bulb, it was one thousand steps to successful invention.

And now, at home, I find myself at an utter loss for words.

Instead, I’m tearing up. Again.

So call me a sentimental fool as I yield the floor, surrender my masks, acquiesce to emotion, and offer a round of applause to all of us in the midst of this wild adventure. To the mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and grandparents who show up. To the teachers and administrators and counselors who give so much with little recognition.

And I marvel at our children – at their energy, their perseverance, their willingness to work hard. And despite everything – their astonishing optimism, which will serve them well.


© D A Wolf

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Comments

  1. Age. Perhaps not a bad aspect of age. It’s not sadness per se. I beieve it may be an ability to more closely experience/understand those around us and those beyond our view. We somehow connect, at times unexpectedly via apparently minor events, with both the enormity and the mystery of it all, and our small role in it. Age.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Yep.

      But might we euphemistically refer to it as “maturity” please? Or you’ll make me cry…

  2. Bravo on that finish line, and on your wonderful children – I definitely relate (as I suspect you know) to the mistiness, the sentimental welling up, the constant emotion. This SEASON does that to me! xoxoxo

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Thanks, Lindsey. (Truth be told, how do we not well up around a child growing into his sense of self?)

  3. I bawled when they played the “I Have a Dream” speech on MLK at my daughter’s school last January. Embarrassing.

  4. I know what you mean about the weepiness. It sneaks up on you, doesn’t it?

    It took me months to put my feelings into words as I watched my eldest daughter’s high school graduation ceremony. I was weepy, yes – but also in awe.

    Hugs and congratulations!

  5. I’m with you on the weepy thing. My daughter’s high school dance show was last night and watching her dance with her peers, her gracefulness, poise, and just her beauty just overwhelmed me.

    Pass the kleenex! :)

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      @Linda – It is overwhelming at times. My sons just shake their heads when I’m sentimental. Does your daughter get it?
      @Andrea – That was a beautiful piece you wrote. Thank you for that link.
      @Pauline – I laughed at your remark! It is embarrassing when you cry! (I need some serious shades to hide behind.)

  6. Age, yes. And relief, as one who has come through a dangerous journey? There’s a prayer for that in the Jewish liturgy, I believe.

  7. Okay, my oldest is only nine, and I’m already all weepy. In my case, it’s been brought on by having my 2nd baby. I hold my 8-month-old and look at my 9-year-old and know that time is going to FLY by, and soon my 8-month-old will be the 9-year-old and my oldest will be (gulp!) 18! Oy. I can’t think on it too long. I’m getting all misty… :)

  8. I’m right there with you! As my kids are nearly full grown, looking, I find I can hardly look at pictures of their younger years. Was it real? It seems so long ago. Now..a college scholarship?! I’d be crying everytime I thought of that! How awesome! Congratulations!

  9. NoNameRequired says:

    Tenderness is a hallmark of our humanity. Thank you for this, which is an invitation, to us.

  10. Madelia says:

    My eldest calls it “one of Mom’s puddle-fests.” He’s learned how to circumvent them by threatening me. Almost had one last night at a friend’s 50th birthday party—bad enough when I realized I’d known the man half his life— but then you look up and see two tall sons, one of whom will be away from you in a year. What will I do without my baby near? Close call on the puddle-fest, but then he gave me “the look” and I just reached for another bite of bread pudding.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Ah – “the look.” Kids have one, telling us to chillax and not embarrass them. Then there’s our “look” – which can stop them cold! (I am so relieved to know that I am not the only one going through this… especially this time of year, it seems.

  11. Oh, I leak all the time – watching Braveheart, reading Harry Potter, remembering my Mom, putting up my Christmas tree. I’m just a mush-pot. Bill’s used to it by now…

  12. I welled up at the thought of my daughter going to Kindergarten this August. Those emotions come in force when you least expect it.
    Congrats Wolf!

  13. M’lady, what you did not say and I will say it for you is that you should really really be proud of all this. You did it. Just thinking about what you have done and the hell you must have been through to get here, I am proud of you and I want to cry too!

  14. I keep thinking I’m about to get weepy, as both the girls are graduating next week; from elementary school and middle school. But maybe I’m saving it for high school graduations!

  15. Kristina says:

    It’s the wonder and beauty of life and the inevitable changes that we experience. To watch our children grow and leave is hard but satisfying. At 54 I am just only beginning to accept all this and to embrace it and revel in the loveliness of my daughters and watch as they experience the things I went through. We do come out at the other end and it is magical. It’s life in all its glory!

  16. And a big scholarship.
    There’s another achievement.

  17. This, my dear friend, is just the tip of the iceburg. Wait until you hold your first grandchild. Brand new meaning to the phrase, sentimental fool! :-) But for now, go ahead and tear up. It’s a fabulous milestone and one you don’t want to waste spending all your time trying to be strong!

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