I am a cryer. I cry at movies and sappy television commercials. I cry reading books and news stories. I cry listening to music. I cry at weddings and funerals, even if I barely know the people. I cry nostalgically when I watch home videos of my kids or remember touching moments from their lives, such as the time my adopted daughter gave me her first smile.
I have always been a cry baby. As a little girl, I would cry when my father read us the story “The Little Match Girl” and when I listened to a recording of Peter Rabbit getting caught in Mr. MacGregor’s garden and being threatened with becoming a rabbit stew. I even cried listening to the organ music at Sunday Mass.
I have often wished that I didn’t cry so easily (or alternatively, that I had become an actress who needed to bring tears to my eyes readily). It can be embarrassing to be the only one crying, a situation in which I find myself quite frequently.
The summer before my oldest daughter left for college, I cried on an almost daily basis. I would hear a song such as Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella,” which is about a father cherishing the fleeting moments as his daughter grows up, and just start bawling. Nothing was worse, though, than the moment of reckoning during the invocation at the university, as I fully realized we would be leaving her there. As all the other parents sat there stoically or even casually, I just cried and cried. The tears streamed down. It was humiliating to overhear one mom mutter, “Aw, she’s crying,” as if I were a little girl who had broken her favorite doll.
At least dropping a child off at college seems like a justifiable reason to cry one’s eyes out. Much harder to explain why I could not stop crying while seeing the animated movie Kung Fu Panda 2 with my adopted Chinese daughter. In the film, the panda Po learns why he was adopted by his goose father. I know. It sounds ridiculous. But the moment when the panda mother has to leave her child for his own safety just came too close to home for me. I had to wear my sunglasses in the movie theater after the showing so as not to expose my red, swollen eyes.
I’d like to think that my tendency to cry means that I’m a sensitive, compassionate soul with great depth of feeling. And I guess if I had to choose, I’d prefer being a bit overly sensitive and sentimental to being more detached or cold. Whatever the case, I doubt I will ever change this deeply ingrained trait of mine.
So if you happen to catch me at my child’s graduation or even just watching the latest tear-jerker at the movie theater, watch out. As my son once remarked, “Here come the waterworks!”