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Answer me this #13

How old were you the first time you cried happy tears?

Why, do you think, are happy tears something of an adult phenomenon?

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

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21 Responses

  1. That’s a wonderful memory, WiseGuy! Did you actually cry?

    I’m wondering if crying from happiness is a learned behavior. My kids seem to think crying when you are happy is ridiculous, outrageous. And I vaguely remember thinking the same thing when I was young.

  2. …unless, I am interpreting ‘happy tears’ wrong….

    I think it was when I was about 7-8 years old…that is an incident that is clearly marked in my mind. My mother had sent me a box full of pastries in school, because she was not able to provide me a tiffin in the morning. The recess came and went. I had no money (I don’t remember that), and I was empty-stomach when somebody from the Principal’s office came to call me from my class.

    That is when the goodies landed.

    I remember sitting on the edge of the courtyard, looking at a huge banyan tree (where I used to play everyday), opening the box and counting too many of my favourites. It made me happier to know that everybody else was ….errr…studying, when I was enjoying a great break outside.

  3. Sheri said:

    “I think when I was young I thought that life went on forever. Now there is a sense of how very precious every single moment is…which makes things more touching and more real.”

    I think that kind of sums up my happy tears thing – except I take it in a different direction. I don’t think they’re exactly happy – I think they’re recognition that I’ll never get to experience this moment again and I want it to last forever, but I know it won’t.

  4. I don’t remember when I first cried happy tears…but they seem to come more often as I get older.

    I think when I was young I thought that life went on forever. Now there is a sense of how very precious every single moment is…which makes things more touching and more real.

    My happy tears seem to come from a place of gratitude…and I’ve become more aware of how very blessed I am now that I’ve experienced more of life’s ups and downs.

    Feeling like shedding happy tears is wonderful because it is such an outpouring of emotions.

    Hang on…I have to grab a kleenex. 🙂

  5. Hmmm. I don’t remember, but I’m sure it was since I became an adult. I think that’s because of the ability to see that good and bad live together. As a child it’s usually either/or kind of thing.

  6. Yes, it was as an adult…22 or so, when I held my first nephew for the first time. Smiling through my tears. I remember it like it was yesterday and he’s almost 19. And I’m 19 more nieces and nephews into being an auntie and have cried every time.

    It is a strange phenomenon really, but one I am hoping my kids learn early on, that you can cry happy tears. I’m highly emotive, wear it all out there and my little man (age almost 4) often says to me when I’m crying “Momma, you happy or sad?” Usually I’m a little of both, but that’s the way I live. And he hugs me regardless so that’s okay too.

  7. I was in college when I cried happy tears. I didn’t know how I would pay for my last semester and my professor offered to loan me the money. I was ecstatic.

  8. You can remember this? You have an amazing memory apparently, or I’ve drank my memories away…

  9. I would imagine it has something to do with the ability to manage emotions. When you’re young and you feel something overwhelming, like anger for example, it comes out as tears. But I guess that logic would mean you’d cry when you’re overwhelmingly happy too, and I don’t recall doing that….hmmm…

    I honestly think the first time I cried happy tears was after Ellie was born this August. Just feeling so overcome with joy that the only outlet was to cry.

  10. Wow, interesting thought about tears of joy being an adult phenomenon.
    I remember being 9 years old getting a Malibu Barbie for Xmas being so happy w/tears of joy.
    Thanks, Lori.

  11. Good question!

    I was actually 13, and silly as it sounds, had asked for a pair of leather boots for Christmas…you know the kind that went outside of your pants, that were sort of slouchy, and you looked totally cool in them? (yes, it was 1988)…well, come Christmas morning, there was a box wrapped up with my name on it, and when I tore off the paper, there was the boot box…we still have photos of me HUGGING my boots…

    I think that happy tears are more of an adult phenomenon because we’ve become so jaded, so hardened that we realize that true happiness and joy can be rare or at least far between, and we savor it more…we understand that true happiness is a product of our actions and choices, and not just getting something we think we want when we want it.

  12. I don’t know for sure, but I think, like Sunny it was when I got accepted into my first choice college AND they gave me a totally kick-a$$ scholarship meaning that I could in fact attend a private liberal arts college despite my family’s modest income. My father and I shared the moment and he too became teary-eyed. Perhaps seeing him that way made me all the more emotional. For him, I think it was the joy at knowing that his oldest child would be able to go to an excellent college and become the first college-educated person in our family and that he didn’t have to feel bad about not being able to pay for such an experience for me. It was an incredibly emotional moment for all of us and much more complex than I ever could have comprehended at a young age. Perhaps that’s why we don’t cry happy tears earlier?

  13. Very cool question–and I wish I could remember the FIRST time–but the first one I have a really good memory of, was when I found out I got the lead role in my high school senior musical. Cheesy, yes–but I will always remember that moment!

  14. This is an excellent question and I seriously can’t remember when happy tears started, but it was definitely in later years.

    The ChickieNob always asks when I cry, “are these happy tears or sad tears?” It’s interesting to see her try to figure out other people’s emotions when she can’t understand how the action relates to the events around her.

  15. When I was in 5th grade a team I was on placed second in the state of Ohio. I remember crying tears of joy when the results were announced. That’s the earliest joy-cry I can come up with.

  16. I really am not sure. The moment that comes to mind is when I was 17, almost 18, and I got into my top-choice college. It was a huge accomplishment for me, and I was laughing and crying at the same time.

    I don’t know if it is learned or inherent, although I am inclined to say inherent. It just involves emotions that aren’t necessarily experienced until one is older.

  17. When I graduated from high school. I don’t know why, but I tend to cry under extremely stressful situations whether they are happy or sad or just difficult (quitting a job I don’t even like). I prepped myself for WEEKS so that I wouldn’t lose it at my wedding.

  18. I wonder if it could have something to do with holding in emotion? Most kids tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves expressing whatever they’re feeling at that moment (even if the expression is different for each child). Maybe as adults we hold emotions much more in check and so when we become overwhelmingly happy, it all overflows. Just a theory.

  19. If you mean literally and not metaphorically, i don’t think I’ve ever cried happy tears.

    I’ll have to think about what that means.

  20. Wonderful question and I love the comments.

    I don’t remember the first time at all. It does seem to be more of an adult thing.

    I wonder if sometimes it is a sad/sweet moment. I was tearing up the other day over looking at an Easter dress we bought LB. My thought was, “how amazing we have a daughter to buy this for.” It was a happy thought with a sad edge because it was also about our losses and time it took to get here.

  21. I don’t remember the first time, but like Sheri they seem to come more often the older I get.

    A distinct memory I do have is my Dad bringing home roses to my Mom when I was around 4-5 years old. I was peeking around the bookcase watching Mom cry and not understanding – I would have been thrilled if Dad brought me a present!!

    Maybe with age, emotions mature. Sort of like how babies have to almost ‘grow’ tastebuds before they can enjoy sour and bitter tastes. I don’t think children have the complex emotions of ‘happy tears.’

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