I'm a crier.
When I was 3 and my arm was pulled out of its socket, I cried because the doctor was going to have to cut the sleeve off my favorite dress.
At 7, I cried tears of joy when the rocks I had planted spouted into rock-trees. (They were weeds.)
At 14, I cried from the heartbreak of having to sever ties with my first imaginary boyfriend. Rumors had spread around junior high that Matthew was, in fact, not real. A young imaginary relationship can't survive that type of intense scrutiny.
I cry at every movie, at every greeting card, at every love song and at everything Bryan Adams has ever sung. "Summer of '69" gets me choked up every time.
I'm a crier.
And perhaps because I'm such a crier, I've become a non-crier at times that make the most sense to cry. During those moments when even pre-Christmas-ghosts Ebenezer Scrooge would have fallen to his knees and wept, I become ... distracted.
Call it survival of the weepiest
I have been reassured many times over the years that when my husband proposed, he performed a veritable monologue of love affirmations, complete with lines that rival Shakespeare and belong in museums. Not that I can confirm any of this. The moment that man's knee hit the ground, my attention went to the sea lion barking nearby. What is it, boy? Are ya hungry? Is there a shark nearby? Did Timmy fall down the well?
I'm fairly certain that the sea lion's "arf arf arf" translates to "Stop paying attention to me and listen to that boy's proposal." Just a hunch.
During my wedding vows, I looked about as stoic and dead inside as Cruella de Vil. Same goes for the birth of my children. As I held my newborn daughter to my chest, the doctor said, "You're so quiet up there. You're making me nervous. Are you OK? What are you thinking about?"
I was thinking about nachos.
My brain shuts off in big emotional moments. It disassociates, and I wind up crying about the event later — usually when I'm alone in my car, just before walking into an important meeting at which I am the key speaker. This is why I don't wear mascara.
Recently, I've decided to become more present, and what better moment to try this new skill than on my son's first day of elementary school? A perfect smorgasbord of maternal emotions. I was determined to cry. It was practically on my to-do list: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack? Check. "Star Wars" lunchbox? Check. Tears streaming down my face as I cope with my baby's growing and my own inevitable mortality?
I had intended to cry at my son's preschool graduation a few months back. I'd really wanted to. I had even prepped my tear ducts by thinking sad thoughts beforehand: the first time my son got his shots, Ryan Gosling in "The Notebook," that time I had to break up with Matthew. I'd wanted the tears to roll down my face as a good mother's would.
Alas, an evil 2-year-old had other plans. More yappy than that horrible sea lion at my proposal, a younger sister of a fellow preschool graduate had insisted on taking to the graduation line and disrupting the affair. I had tried to cry. I really had. I'd sung all the words to "Summer of '69" in my head, but not a drop fell from my eyes.
For the first day of pre-K, I would not let myself down. I would be in the moment. I would look embarrassingly weepy and hysterically undignified if it was the last thing I did!
As my husband drove to the school, I flipped through first-day-of-school photos moms had posted on Facebook, tears streaming down their faces. But when it came time for that sacred sob-fest and hug goodbye, my son simply said, "See ya, Mom." Then he skipped off to his seat. And it was over.
Four days after school began, a mom I know took pictures of her kid wearing her first-day clothes and holding a sign that read, "First day of school." She said it took her a while to get her act together.
This is my new mission in life: to re-create the scene when I can get my act decidedly un-together.
I wonder whether the hospital will let me pretend to birth my pre-kindergartener for a photo-op?
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.