Before I had my son, as in, when he was kicking my bladder and making me rush to the bathroom every five seconds, I dreamed of a life with him, where we baked bread together every morning and I sewed clothes.
My child was going to whittle at the age of three and make his own cheese on his fifth birthday… and enjoy it. I dreamed of growing crops, owning crops, being able to constantly say the word crops over and over again during the course of the day and I dreamed of him growing up without a television blaring in front of him.
And then the magical day came when I finally had my son and things… got real.
We made bread… so that I could find something to do to keep myself sane while he was sleeping and I was so tired, if I tried to use a sewing machine, it would have sent me to the emergency room. Guess what? That week I tried cloth diapering? That was it… a week.
Things got real and so did my ideas about what kind of parent I would be with one of the biggest things being, the idea of television and my son’s interaction with it. I had always been a movie geek, and now I was a mom too.
I think when you finally have your own children, you really begin to assess your own childhood with this magnifying glass that only new parents can have access to. What am I really excited to show this new little person about the world? What happy moments from my own childhood do I want to share with this child? What shaped me?
As I sat in my recliner, nipples sore, feeling worn to the bone, the only thing in those early days that gave me peace was that glowing box in the corner and the escapism of a great movie. This movie geek mom was soothed by familiar stories and memorized lines.
That’s when I really began to realize that one of the biggest thrills and happiest experiences I had as a child was going to the movies with my family.
Growing up, we didn’t have the money to go on big vacations. But what we did have the money to do was go to the movies. We went every time there was a family movie out. We even had a Christmas tradition of going to the movies on Christmas day. For weeks leading up to Christmas, we would watch trailers on television and vote for which movie was going to be our “Christmas movie”. I loved the chatter before the lights went out, the trailers before the movie started and then the full escapism of watching the stories unfold in front of you.
When I turned 16, my parents gave me one of my most treasured possessions at the time, a VHS/TV combo for my room. Suddenly my shelves began to fill with dozens of VHS tapes, Charlie Chaplin, 80s classics, Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, anything with George Lucas or Stephen Speilburg attached to it and every Rob Reiner or Nora Ephron romantic comedy. As I discovered new actors and new directors my collection grew.
My love of movies and film was growing each year.
Life went on and so did my love for the cinema. I began to love all the works of the Cohen Brothers, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Christopher Guest, and Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorcese. Each year, more young directors, writers, and actors came out of Hollywood and suddenly I found myself falling in love over and over again as my tastes changed and matured, as my own life and relationships became more complex and… as I continue this journey further into motherhood.
And so, there I am back in my recliner, newborn snoozing on my chest, because that’s the only place he’ll sleep, when it strikes me. If I continue with the parenting that I had thought I wanted, I would have to deny something in my and my children’s lives that was such a joy and a part of me all throughout my life. I realized that I was excited to be able to show my kids “E.T.” and “The Goonies”, “Wallace and Gromit” and “Toy Story”, “Star Wars” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and as they got older “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Indiana Jones”, “Back to the Future” and “The Time Machine”.
If I denied this part of my history and self and kept the television out of their lives, I would be denying my self-definition as a movie geek and thus, losing an entire section of my upbringing.
My family often talked in movie quotes, and one of our favorite movies to quote from was “Jason and the Argonauts”. When my dad passed away, a huge portion of that movie quoting culture was missing from my life. Along with all of the little inside jokes that had helped tie my two siblings and I together left, and in some ways, the feeling of family left when the quotes did.
But you know what? A few weeks ago, I sat my kids down, and together our whole family watched “Jason and the Argonauts” and wouldn’t you know, the quotes are already starting to fly around the house and I have never felt more at home in my parenting.
And this is the key to our feeling like failures or successes as parents.
Are we being true to ourselves? Are we showing the core of who we are and our passions to our children? Some people have a passion for baking bread, sewing clothes, and whittling, and they can’t imagine their lives without these things, the same as I can’t imagine mine without the joy of movies and film.