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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Weeping through a children's movie

It doesn't seem real that I just returned home from seeing Cheaper By the Dozen 2 with my eight-year-old daughter after sobbing through half of the movie. That's because: 1) It's a kid's movie. 2.) It's a comedy. 3) Steve Martin's in the lead role.

And I'm crying like a baby in the front row of the main seating area, pulling Kleenex from my purse after using all the popcorn napkins?

I'm not saying I'm proud. I'm just saying.

Movies aren't so simple, seeing them I mean. Because we bring our context with us through the tunstyle. Our popcorn and gummy bears and the way we've made meaning of our lives so far.

My context sits right next to me, her face blushing when Tom Baker's tomboyish teenage daughter likes a boy for the first time and goes to the movies with him.

My context chomps popcorn and guzzles rootbeer when the parents grapple with three kids leaving nest and moving away.

My context blinks and sighs at the new grandchild, whose sweet face ushers the parents into the beginning of their final era of life.

It's a story of parenting and of letting go when you can't quite find the muscles that let your fingers release the precious lives you--by some magic or grace--have been allowed to guide so far. A story of releasing in progress, little by little, then more and more, which is what good parents do--or so I hear it's in the job description.

And I also know that the context for the grief I hit in that theater tonight was as much about letting go of my own daughter as about being a daughter and having to separate, having to force that separation, and the horrible pain in the severing, the surgery of undoing.

About every loss, every abandonment, every challenge to uncurl my own tight grasp, to let some air between my hands and hers.

And afterwards, in the car home, there's my context again, giggling in the backseat - "Mom, Mom--was that so funny when the dad was upside down!?"

And I'm laughing so hard the tears start again.

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