I was minding my own business, trying to enjoy my coffee and a few moments of peace before starting my day.
And then it happened.
I was watching the Today Show—a bit about Drew Brees’s donation to help fight the devastation of Covid-19—when Hoda Kotb crashed through the television screen and shoved a rusty knife against my neck. Her accomplice, Savannah Guthrie, stood off to the side—glassy-eyed, but watchful—making sure I didn’t make a run for it.
They had me cornered and I—a well-planned, cautious, control freak—never saw it coming.
Hoda pressed her face against mine, violating our new social distancing ethos. “Don’t move,” she whispered. “Give me all your feelings.”
I had no choice. So I cried.
If you missed it this morning, Today Show host, Hoda Kotb, fell apart. Unable to hold back her tears, she simply got lost in a riptide of emotions … and it was a beautiful gift for her viewers.
The camera cut away to Savannah Guthrie (also visibly shaken) who picked up the pieces and ushered us into a deep, recovery breath during a commercial break.
Friends, I didn’t realize until that very moment how much I needed to witness those tears. I’ve watched Hoda deliver the news every morning since all of this began, and she’s done it with an amazing amount of control and grace. However, what I saw this morning showed me the beauty of our shared humanity—the compassion and heartbreak—and it gave me the permission to feel everything I’d been holding at bay.
So I cried.
As parents, I know we’re all trying to hold it together. We’re trying to remain upbeat and keep our kids happy, healthy, safe, and distracted. However, Hoda reminded me this morning what a beautiful opportunity we’ve been given. As a former educator, I urge parents to look for teachable moments … and this is definitely a teachable moment.
My own kids (mostly adults now) have witnessed my humor and sarcasm for the past month. They’ve also seen flashes of frustration and anger. They’ve watched me go about my day as best I can, pretending everything’s okay and perfectly fine. After all, we don’t want to trouble our kids with hints of our own frailties. As such, I haven’t let my family see what’s really going on inside of my heart, and that’s not wise or loving. If anything, it’s probably cruel.
This is a scary, uncertain situation. I’m concerned for loved ones. I’m worried about our financial security. My heart longs to be with my closest friends (the ones who hold my heart and give me a much needed hug and pat on the back when I’m struggling—times like now).
All things considered, I’m doing okay. But I’m not well. And my kids probably need to see that emotional honesty.
All of our kids do.
They need to see us fall apart. They need to see our fears and tears. They need to witness the depths of our humanity. And when they do, we bless them with two powerful lessons:
- Our tears give our kids permission to feel everything they’re feeling. That’s liberating.
- We get the chance to model what it’s like to become overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, and sadness, and THEN demonstrate how to pick up the pieces, take a deep breath, and keep moving forward. That’s empowering.
Those are lessons our kids really need right now.
Before Hoda’s breakdown this morning, I’d not shed a single tear. Not one. I didn’t have time for that. Between trying to keep our family safe, plugging holes in our small business that is taking on water at an alarming rate, and trying to finish a book my agent has been expecting for weeks, I’d been showing my kids how to power through a minefield like a machine.
However, we’re not machines. And neither are our kids.
So I cried.
Ever since Hoda busted into our family room and emotionally mugged me, I haven’t stopped crying … and those tears have been a life-giving baptism for me and those who depend on me.
So, thank you, Hoda. I needed that.
Friends, we are living in confusing times, but we’ve also been given an opportunity to teach our children something powerful: what it means to be human.
Let your kids see your heart—your true heart.
Give them permission to reveal their own.
And after the tears have dried, show them what it’s like to climb out of the darkness and carry on.
Be well, friends.
(By the way, Hoda, you owe me some tissues. Our stock is running low.)
**Please share this. A lot of folks need a good, healing cry right now, and they need a little encouragement to open the floodgates. We all do.**
Bert is a Today Show Parenting Team contributor and writes for multiple parenting sites. You can follow him at www.BertFulks.com.
Bert’s award-winning book, X-Plan Parenting, is available wherever books are sold.