I may, at some time in the future, use the phrase “this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you”.
This is not one of those times.
I was upstairs leading a Bible study when I heard the scream. Your mother was downstairs with you, and she came running up, holding you, while you screamed in agony.
This picture is the next day, after we’d cleaned it and the swelling had gone down. It was even worse at first.
I guess you opened the toy chest downstairs and then it closed with your thumb within. And not in the front, but in the back corner, where maximum pinching is achieved. It bled. A lot. And you cried. A lot.
Your tears were deserved, but I’ll admit to you that I was on the border of tears as well. Just seeing the blood on your hand and hearing your pained screams was heart wrenching to me. I wanted nothing more than to take your pain away, but could do nothing more than get you a Band-Aid with some triple antibiotic on it.
You eventually calmed down, we gave you some ice to reduce swelling, and the night continued well enough, until it was time for you to go to bed. I don’t know if you kept rolling over onto your hand, but I do know that you woke up every few minutes, sobbing. I went into your room, held you, and sang to you until you calmed again, then lied you back down. We repeated this a couple of times until you finally slept.
All in all, Braxton, I have to say that there were a lot of tears that night. Yours flowed freely while mine never surfaced, but were always on the verge. And you know what? I feel no shame in that. Nor should you for your tears.
Here’s the truth, my son: a lot of things and people are going to try to convey to you that crying is for “girls” or “sissies”. They’ll say that real men don’t cry, that real men remain stoic and unaffected.
This is absolutely and unequivocally false.
I cry, Braxton. There are times when the world weighs heavily on my shoulders and stress is overwhelming me, and I cry. There are times when the beauty of this world is awe inspiring, times like when your sister and you (and inevitably #3) were born, and I cry. There are times of quiet wonder, like when I stood in the entrance of Fenway Park in 2012 for the 100th anniversary and thought to myself, “100 years ago, there was likely another young man standing in this very spot. coming for this very reason, to watch the Red Sox play baseball”, and my eyes misted, just a bit. There are moments of undeniable joy, like when I felt the forgiveness of Christ for the first time, and tears flowed freely. There are even times of extreme pain, like when the root of my tooth broke and pierced my sinus, causing an infection of both my sinuses and my gums, with pus filling both. Oh, I cried then. I cried like an 8 year old girl.
I’m a man. I’ve been in fights. I hunt animals. I like sports.
Some guys don’t, and that’s okay. Maybe you’ll be the more stoic type. But never think that tears are a weakness. It’s always better to express your emotions healthily than to hide them and let them fester.
Don’t be afraid to cry, son, someday, we’ll likely share those tears.
I love you.
1 Corinthians 1:4
Christian, husband, father, and pastor. Also a proud and dedicated nerd. One of the dads at TheDadLetters.com and author of TheLivesIHaveLived.wordpress.com.