I saw it with a friend, and as we walked out she asked what I thought, and I just completely broke down. The pivotal moment for me was when the teenaged boy and his stressed single mother finally have it out, and she tells him that he is loved, he is good, and he's done good things. I immediately flashed to Bumpus reaching out to tag my hand, or hurting himself and putting up his arms to be held, or clinging to my arm when he's scared of something. Lately we've been doing this thing where I put my lips in a kissy position and he walks over and offers up his forehead to be kissed, over and over. He loves it. And it just made me think about mothers and sons, and how much boys need to know that their mothers love them, and that their mothers think they are good. And how despite my awkwardness in this department I strive to do this every day.
Of course it also made me think about my own mother and father and our fractured relationships. My father is on Facebook now and drives me nuts commenting on every picture, every status update, posting odd incomprehensible poems to my wall, and constantly references the one or two things he remembers about me from the brief time we knew each other (he moved back to Brazil when I was around five and I've only seen him once since then), as a desperate way of trying to connect with me and make up for thirty five years of neglect. I am not friends with my mother on Facebook, but recently I browsed over to my father's profile to see what he'd been up to and was shocked to discover they have conversations there (last I heard they were not on good terms); one which involved her posting a picture of me and him from around 1976, saying "remember this?". He responded that he missed me so much, and she wrote back that she did, too. This exchange brought up a maelstrom of emotions for me - sadness, anger, and annoyance that once again I am the parentalized child, feeling sorry for my out-to-lunch parents, who both 100% caused the rift that exists between all of us.
The scene where the mother recounts for the son all the good things he's done in his life made me think of something I rarely like to dig up, which is this awful, hateful email my mother sent me on Christmas after she told me to cancel my trip to Brazil to see her because since I no longer believed in her religion, my very presence would be toxic to her. Rather than apologizing, as I expected, she went on a rant basically telling me I am a bad person - manipulative, an emotional blackmailer, you name it - and as a kicker that I'd been like this ever since I was little and she'd always known this about me - that I am, to all intents and purposes, BAD. Can you imagine your mother saying something like this to you? When your only crime was telling her you have stopped believing in her religion?
Needless to say I never got over it. It killed a part of me that's gone forever. I never responded - and in fact never contacted her again until years later when B was born and I felt it would be downright cruel to leave her or my father out of it, as much as neither of them deserve anything from me. I know her email was just her own projecting and acting out and is NOT true about me (it's way more true about her, actually), but...as an uninvolved relative said about it, "that's your baby. You can't say things like that to your baby." You really have to watch what you say to your loved ones. Some things you just can't take back.
And I hate that I'm a grown-ass woman and my stupid inept parents can still have such an effect on me that I can start bawling on the sidewalk in Pasadena over a teen romance movie. It's over. They're a mess, I'm a parent now and am fixing the mistakes they made, I'm moving on. I'm creating my own son who will learn to be kind and caring and selfless, because he'll always know that his mother loves him and thinks he's good. Maybe unlike me he can one day be a wonderful loving spouse to someone. Someday when he's grown like me.
But every once in a while that impossibly damaged little girl comes out - the one that was abandoned by her father and who's mother did not love her and did not think she was good - and I cry for her.