Family, Love+

My Mother’s “Gift of Tears”

(Art by Helen Jane Hearn/

My mom cries at everything.

She called it “My Gift of Tears.” (She capitalizes it with her mouth.)

She cries at commercials, displays of affection and a solid piece of music — she always has.

I was profoundly embarrassed by it as a child. Naturally, I inherited it.

In the past three days, my tears flowed at a wedding — the entire wedding. I wept when considering the pain my friends felt when they lost their baby. Yesterday, I cried imagining myself getting the news about my dog dying. My dog is not dying any more than any of us are. Yet, tears.

The welling of feeling in my chest, the eyes filling up — it happens more frequently the older I get. I’ve learned tricks to manage it — like clearing my throat and turning my eyes skyward. They help occasionally — but in the face of a reconciliation, deep loss or commiseration, the tears still come.

My six year old cried at that same wedding. I asked her if she was okay and she replied, “I’m crying because I’m so happy for them.”

I cried even more. This time, thanks to pride. I am proud of My Gift of Tears. From mother to daughter, vulnerabilities made visible, these sympathies passed on.

Filed under: Family, Love+


Helen Jane Hearn

Helen Jane has written at since 1998. An entertaining enthusiast, Helen Jane is also a certified specialist of wine and founder of Cheesewhizzes, a nation-wide cheese tasting club (featured in Food & Wine magazine). Helen Jane has spoken at SXSW, the Foodbuzz Festival, Mom 2.0 and was a keynote speaker at the 2011 EVO conference. Helen Jane is also captain of her bocce team, Joanie Loves Bocce. She lives and plays in Napa Valley with her husband and tweets at @helenjane.


  1. MeaganFrancis says

    I love this! My mom was also a no-holds-barred crier and it embarrassed me so much that I spent years working on the practice of Showing No Emotion. It was easier when I was younger and was actually able to sort of disengage myself from emotion when out in public, but the older I get the more I stink at it – or maybe I just no longer care what people think and would rather allow myself the relief and humanity of giving into the tears? So the tears, they come. Next time we are at the same conference let’s sit together at one of the keynotes and then we can just cry and laugh at ourselves and each other and cry even harder 🙂

  2. Valerie Brett says

    My girls turn to me when watching Disney TV ! And say mommy, are you going to cry now? But secretly, I think they love it.

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