“Sometimes you’re the tissue, sometimes you’re not,” said The Little Guy at the dinner table when I pointed to the line of snot across the right shoulder of my sweatshirt. I just laughed. I have never heard him say anything like that.
I looked at him and said, “That really is so profound, Little Guy.” (like he knows what that means!)
Sometimes there is nothing else. One of my favorite pieces of advice for a new parent is “all your clothes better be washable….half the time, they are a tissue.” There’s been many a day that I’ve seen myself in a mirror half-way through a work day and noticed the snot-line on the shoulder or across the bottom of the shirt. And I’ve never been upset. Instead I’ve smiled to realize that there’s someone at home in my life who is so precious that I get to be their tissue – I’m the one they come crying to when they get hurt, or are sad, or on days they just don’t feel well. I am the one who is there in those moments of their life, some of them little and some of them gushing blood. Sometimes I can find the tissue box. And sometimes I’m the tissue.
Sometimes I’m the tissue for other people’s kids too. Sometimes I’m picking up the little one who fell and wiping their tears. Sometimes I’m holding my mother’s foster baby who at the age of 6 months is an adorable chunk of a boy….with plenty of drool and teether-crud all over his mouth. It’s important to be “in there” for others’ kids too so that they know there’s another caring adult in the world and that the line of snot running into their mouths is not going to scare anyone away (though I’m definitely looking for the tissue box here!).
And sometimes I’m the tissue for the good friend who is under some tough stress of life or just heard some hard news. Sometimes I’m the tissue for the happy tears cried onto the shoulder of a tight hug. Sometimes I have a tissue to offer and sometimes I don’t. But I’m always thankful to have close enough friends to cry together. Because sometimes I’m the tissue, and sometimes they hold that role for me. I wouldn’t get too far in life without having some tissue friends.
So get in there and get dirty.
Be the tissue for someone today or this week. We all need a shoulder.