(this column was originally posted November 4, 2013)

I’ve been shedding some tears lately.   Okay, a lot of tears. And as much as I try not to cry in front of my daughter… well, sometimes it just can’t be avoided.

Life of a single mom who can’t say to a significant other, “honey, can you do homework with her tonight so I can lock myself in a bathroom and cry?”

Yeah.  Like that.

I remember when I was young never seeing my mother cry. Her face would get all contorted in pain but the tears wouldn’t drop. Instead, she drank or went to bed or got quiet. And it scared me. I never knew if she was going to be okay.

I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or shop. Nope, nothing to take the edge off of life’s painful moments. I take hikes with my dog, I call friends, I write, I listen to music, I take baths. But sometimes nothing works except a good cry. A really good cry. The kind where you pass out after and wake up with a pillow stuck to your face.

Before I was a mom I never thought twice about crying. If I had to let it out I just did. Often times using my cat as a tissue. But as a mom it’s different. It’s your job to be strong, to power through, to not over-share, overwhelm, overload your kid with your “stuff”. It’s your job to make them feel safe, secure and let them know that mom has it all handled.

So,  this last week when my daughter saw me cry it made me wonder… is it okay?  Is she okay? She knew why I was crying, and she understood why I was crying but as I washed my face and braided her hair for bed I wanted to know how it made her feel to see her mom emotional in that way. She looked at me with those big blue eyes, so full of love,

You should cry, mama. You’re sad.  And it doesn’t scare me because I know you’ll be okay. You’re the strongest person I know.

And she proceeded to put the radio on and say what she has heard her mama say so often,

Let’s dance.

She was right. My daughter has never seen me pull the covers over my head and hide from life — no matter how hard it can get. She knows her mom will always wash her face, get dressed, and place one foot in front of the other.

So, maybe not only is it okay to cry when you’re a mom… but it’s a good thing.  It shows our children that feelings aren’t something to be afraid of as long as we don’t let them take us down.

I wish when I was a little girl I told my mom it was okay for her to cry. Because it was.

My daughter makes me want to be a better person, a wiser person, a stronger person. And… sometimes I simply have to swim through a pool of tears to get there.

And dance? We sure did.