Happy Tears

Michele Fried
By Michele Fried

The other night I called for my kids to come kiss me goodnight … it was the three youngest kids (all teenagers) hanging out in the backyard with some of the neighborhood kids – the ones who refer to me as Mama Fried. One of them – I don’t know which – said, “Aw your mom is so cute, she always says goodnight and tells you she loves you.” “You are lucky,” said another, “I wish my parents still did that.” Teenage boys made these comments by the way, and it was my kids who told me about this while we hugged and kissed and said we loved each other.

Afterward, I settled into bed and without realizing tears streaked down my cheeks and I was surprised actually. For a moment, I wondered what sadness became of me but then I realized that I was feeling so sentimental.

I was not taking for granted that I have three teenagers who came running to say goodnight to me and tell me they loved me. I also felt such warmth because these neighborhood kids mean the world to us. They have truly been unconditional friends to our children. They are patient and kind to our girls with special needs, even including them in activities that most others would not consider inviting them to participate in. They are cheerleaders to each of the kids on any endeavor. They are available when we need them for any silly thing and they are passionate advocates for all kinds of families and all kinds of people.

They say it is because of who we are as a family. They say it is our children who listen to them, who allow them to be themselves, who give them permission to vent or cry, who provide them the opportunity to freely laugh.

Clearly the feeling is mutual, reciprocal, and special.

I feel lucky for my happy tears.