I looked forward to this moment all day. Work is done, kids in bed, dishwasher started, a pile of laundry neglected in the corner. It was the moment I could crawl into my warm soft bed, gather all of the covers with an extra blanket on top and allow myself to indulge and be fully present to watch the return of This Is Us. It's not something I always give myself - a blissful hour doing just one thing!? Not multi-tasking? Unheard of! But based on reviews, I knew this one deserved my full attention.
Tears streamed down my face a number of times through the show. I know I'm not alone in this. I think one of the dynamic things about this show is that it holds up a mirror to our own flaws, our own families, our own upbringing and reflects back at us. This show holds SO MANY themes that touch so many people - abandonment, adoption, weight issues, addiction, loss, trauma - just to name a few!
Tonight's episode for me was REALLY HARD. Even as I typed that sentence, I began to cry again just thinking about it. The Big Three actually remind me of my own children and the dynamics that each of them brings to our family ... it made me think deeply about how I play an integral role in how that all plays out in our family. It made me pause to think how I treat each of them as individuals, as siblings and in relation to me. It made me think about their roles within our family and what that will look like and evolve into over time. It made me think about how adoption plays into your feelings as a mother and how sometimes you DO overcompensate - sometimes even unconsciously.
I think often about how torn I feel between the three of them that each need me SO VERY DIFFERENTLY and how I mold to meet each of those needs. Is it enough? Is it too much? Is someone favored? Is someone "easy" like Randall or doesn't seem to need me like Kevin?
I guess more than anything when I watch the show it makes me pause to consider my life as a mother to my children, a wife to my husband and really forces me to look at the footprint I'm leaving. And I don't know about you, but man that is daunting. The things I do today, the choices I make, the way I act, the way I react, the traditions we make the words I say, the way I interact with my world/family/husband...they all leave this giant imprint on my children and our legacy. All of this, when many days ... I'm just trying to GET BY. That is daunting.
I guess the thing that none of us can control, and in the end was how Randall wrapped up the show. we cannot control how OTHERS PERCEIVE THEIR REALITY. It is only theirs. Their unique viewpoint of the world is through their eyes. I can be Betty Crocker or Joan Crawford and either will be perceived through a lens that is not my own.
I suppose a part of that makes me sad. Many people joke about "don't worry, it will be your fault in therapy someday" but honestly, it's kinda true. Mothers are shaping so many aspects of their children's lives that it truly does come back to the home on many fronts. That is daunting. In This Is Us while she's trying to make Randall feel special, valued, loved and a part of the family that he clearly doesn't look like or often feel a part of ... she is simultaneously making Kevin feel left out and unloved in the same way. Her concern for Kate's well-being and health is perceived as critical and over-bearing. We know as mothers, that isn't the case AT ALL - our concern for all of these things are based on one thing - LOVE! I love how in therapy Rebecca ended up blurting out "I don't love him more it was just easier to love him!" NAILED IT Rebecca - virtual fist pump to you. YES. That. All of that!
Will our children one day get it? Will they get that the love is equal but may be dispersed unequally or differently? Will they add in there that they each need to receive the love in a different way? Will they each factor in the parts about their own difficulties and drama and neuroses they bring to the table? I don't count on it. ;)
I do count on my love never going away. Just like Rebecca. She was waiting for Kevin after the big therapy meltdown. Waiting to affirm her deep love for him. Although it wasn't exactly how he thought he needed it, it was there - it was always there. True mama style to walk through the pain and even in a dark hour when you are hurt and all of your past mistakes are thrown in your face ... to still show up with immeasurable love. Yes, that. That is this daunting mama love we all give so fiercely. Had I been warned that parenting requires a fierce love, the kind of love that hurts over and over again and leaves you coming back for more and more ... would I have been brave enough to do it? I like to think, yes, in a heartbeat.