I have always had cry blockage. My tears build and build and build until they finally pop out at the weirdest, most inconvenient moments, when it seems like I’m sobbing over the most ridiculous issue.
When I was fourteen, my family drove from northeastern Ohio to the middle of Georgia for a wedding. Of course, I was a tortured writer who had to journal sarcastic quips throughout all family car trips. About an hour into our trip, I broke my pen. And it was a really cool pen, a neon pink plastic pen that was twisted into a treble clef on top. It broke, and much to the deep chagrin of my parents and my eleven-year-old brother, who had the unfortunate curse to sit next to me in the back of our station wagon, I sobbed from Ohio to Georgia. Wailed. Over a pen. Or was it? Alllll my teenage angst erupted out of me, and the pen was just the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. The piece that caused Kerplunk. The final Jenga move. The angriest bird on that last smirky pig. Game over.
When I was nineteen, I lived in Macedonia the summer following my freshman year of college, and our mission team went for pizza on one of our last days. When the restaurant staff brought out my pizza and I saw that it was completely the wrong order, the tears started, the breathing got wonky, and in front of my whole team, I devolved into a blotchy, chokey mess. I had to excuse myself and hang out in the bathroom with the flies and the Turkish toilet until I could get control of myself. Not about a pizza. All about leaving the place that had become home and the new friends and the beautiful clarity that comes when you simplify and spend a season with all Jesus.
I can’t cry at funerals. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to conjure up the tears at the appropriate time. Nothing. I can’t cry when I’m sitting in bed with tissues and my Bible and my kids are tucked in bed and the lighting is right and my dog licks my hand ever so sweetly. I can’t cry when someone is hugging me and telling me it’s okay to cry. Can’t. Practically pull a hammy trying to push a tear out. I have to settle for the Bubba lip bite and the Dubya eyebrow scrunch. It’s all I got.
So, during the last two months of drama and pain and loss, I have not cried. Not one tear. Until tonight. Wanna hear what put me over the edge? Awana Puggles.
Would you believe it, Alex and I got assigned to those darling two-year-olds again. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve known it was coming and the dread has been rising. An hour and a half with a roomful of two- and three-year-olds. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. No please no please no. I spend all day every day with one. I can’t add ten more right at bedtime. I just…I’m just not that good a person. Preschool teachers are saints. They are amazing. Last night I got six texts from one of my high school students right before midnight while we were lights out starting to breathe heavily and I happily jumped into small group leader mode until Alex ordered me to put my phone on airplane mode. But Puggles. No, please not the Puggles.
I was dreading it all week. All day. On the way there, I started the thousand yard stare before we’d even pulled into the church parking lot. We checked in, walked into the room, and no sooner had I sat down and started coloring with some kids did a child commandeer me for crayon breaking and paper removing duty. He smelled like green bean pee. The water at the bottom of a can of green beans (not that I would know because duh I only buy green beans from my local farmers’ market in season organic blah blah blah blah) and pee-pee. After crayon breaking time, we went over to the carpet square and sat down for story time. He sat in my lap. Green bean pee lap. I’m dry heaving a little right now thinking about it. Green Bean Pee followed me around the whole night. Time has no meaning in a two-year-old class. The clock breaks right when we walk through the door and those flippin’ hands don’t budge. We sang Twinkle Twinkle several times. I’m not sure what else. I think I blacked out at some point in the barrage of soggy pull-ups and chorus of “Up! Up! Up!”
We made it home. I can still smell the smell. We walked through the front door, I made it to the kitchen counter, and I bent over and just started mumbling, “I give up. I give up. I give up. I’m done. I’m done. Melanie out.” I started hysterically laughing, sounding a lot like Jack Nicholson’s Joker when he falls off the building and hits the pavement. “Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.” Alex ventured over and lifted me back to standing. He put his arms on my shoulders, and I said “I give uppp!!!” And then the Joker-laughs morphed into sobs. The tears started rolling, the sobs picked up steam, and because I’m a complete weirdo, the laughter continued, too. My darling husband has known me for so long, and he did exactly what I needed him to do. Kept holding my shoulders, laughing, and making fun of me in an endearing way.
And then he offered to put the kids to bed while I kept crying. Cuz Mommy is done. Now I’m stuffing my mouth with Jelly Belly Superfruit jellybeans, which are totally healthy because they taste like pomegranates, duh. I feel better. I might even be a tiny bit grateful to Puggles and Green Bean Pee.
So I need to know, am I the only one with weird crying tendencies? Does anyone else share my inability to cry at appropriate moments? Does anyone have a worst-timing-ever story? Please share. I can’t be the only one on the planet this weird. I’m counting on one of you to make me laugh-cry again.