The last time I saw my mom cry was six years ago. I was sitting right in front of her when she broke down. My heart was breaking but I remained seated, unmoved and trying to seem unaffected, as I watched the tears fall from her face, all the while knowing that I was the reason for her tears.
What happened today is a bit different. As she covered her face and began to cry, as her shoulders shook from the sobs, I was right beside her, hugging her and telling her that things will get better. Karen, my sister, was there too. It’s a good thing my mom had covered her face with her hands because if she hadn’t, she would have seen us desperately trying to keep our own tears from falling.
My mom is a soldier, you see. Whenever something bad happens, she doesn’t get hurt. She gets angry. When there is conflict, she doesn’t run away from a confrontation. She makes a beeline toward it. My mom is a soldier. And just as seeing a soldier cry can so easily move people to tears, the same goes for me and my sister when we see our mother in tears.
Now, my father, on the other hand, is an excellent provider. He started working when he was still in high school and he hasn’t stopped since, even now that he’s passed the retirement age. It’s crazy how hardworking my dad is. He doesn’t even work for himself anymore. He puts so much value in our (his kids’) prospects and future stability that, truthfully, I could stop working right now and I’d still be set for life. It’s one of the many things he has instilled in us – work for your children so that your children could start working for their children. Needless to say, my family has always lived a very comfortable life and a huge part of it is because of him.
But some time ago, I realized that there are times when being a wonderful provider can get in the way of being a wonderful husband.
It’s been years since my parents went on a vacation together. My dad’s work and his dedication to his work have kept them from going anywhere that would require a long-distance phone call to reach his office. So while my dad goes to work to give us an even better future, my mom goes to work and waits until my dad is ready. My mom, like I said, is a soldier. But even soldiers need leave.
For the past couple of months, my mom had been planning a trip to Japan with my dad. The trip had been set for June, my mom’s birth month. She’ll be celebrating her 60th birthday on the 18th of June and she had told us so many times that she didn’t want a big party. I just want to travel, she said. So they were going to travel.
Except that earlier today, less than two weeks before the trip, I received a text from my mom. I am very disappointed, she said. It turns out my dad backed out. One of his employees informed him that she would be going on a vacation the same time they were. My dad decided to stay because he didn’t want the office to be short of two people.
My mom tells me she’s disappointed but really, it’s her way of saying she’s hurting. The fact that she texted this to Karen and me while she was at a church meeting meant that she was hurting bad. So when we finally see her, Karen and I ask if she’s okay and we tell her that we’re worried about her.
And then my soldier of a mom begins to cry.
I wrap my arms around her but only for a few minutes because after awhile, she tells us she’s okay and asks us to leave the room. So we do. And then we go about our afternoon like we just didn’t see our mother in tears.
For hours now I’ve been wrestling with myself about whether or not I should do something. I want to talk to my mom about it but she’s made it pretty clear that she’d rather not. I want to try to convince my dad to follow through with their trip but I know that the possibility of him agreeing is very slim. The idea of telling my dad that he made mom cry has crossed my mind but doing that feels wrong.
So what do you do when you see your mom cry? What do you do when you know your dad’s the one who made her cry?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the answer is nothing.
No matter how badly I want my dad to take my mom to Japan, no matter how much I want to stop my mom from being disappointed in my dad, I have to accept the fact that it isn’t my marriage. At the end of the day, I choose to have faith in my parents’ love for each other and their commitment to each other.
But then again, it wouldn’t hurt to say a prayer for them.