This past weekend, The Mister and I watched a movie called Won't Back Down . It's a movie about a mother and a teacher who team up to change their school. I don't know how I missed this movie's debut, other than it came out a few weeks after we brought the gingersnaps home and I was knee deep in poop and constantly attached to either a pump or a baby... soooooo... I guess that's reason enough. Nonetheless... I'm glad we recorded it and watched it.
This movie is inspirational to anyone, but if you've had any experience with a lower performing school, this movie will really getchya. BUT you do have to look past some anti-union stereotypes and even stereotypes about teachers in failing schools. Not all failing schools are a result of the reasons shown in this movie. That is important to remember. And, honestly, although I think it has AWESOME points about school reform, it is definitely not a model for success. It's a movie... and an inspirational one at that... but it's not perfect. But... this post isn't a review of the movie. You should totally watch it, but that's not the point...
Now that I'm a mom, I watch movies differently. I identify with different characters than I did pre-babies. Which makes sense, as my life has done a 180 and I'm a completely different person. Don't get me wrong, I'm the same in a lot of ways, but my priorities have shifted, my perspective has changed, and different things pull on my heart strings now. Having kids changes you and that's neither a bad thing nor a good thing, it just is.
So when I watched this movie, I strongly identified with the two main characters in their roles as mothers. I watched these women stroke their children's hair, kiss their faces as they slept, and I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched each of them fight for their children in different ways. Because that's what motherhood is - a fight. A beautiful battle with long hours, hard days, full of laughter, tears, triumph, and failure... and it is not for the faint of heart.
There is a conversation in the movie that was sooooo good it made me want to jump out of my recliner and clap (ok... there were a couple dialogues that really made me want to do that... but this one in particular... wow.). The main character is a mom, who is fighting to make sure her daughter, who is dyslexic, is getting the help she needs to learn how to read. Her daughter's teacher is numbed by the system and is just horrible, and as a result the mama bear goes to the principle to request that her daughter be moved to another classroom. The conversation doesn't go very well, as the principle is also controlled by bureaucracy and is a little set in his ways. He makes up some lame excuses and then goes on to say, "Every kid can't rise to the top, I'm afraid."
(Oh no he didn't.)
And then mama bear passionately replies, "You're afraid? You know those mothers that can lift 1-ton trucks? They're nothing compared to me." And she walks away.
And at that moment, you know that regardless of whatever else happens, at the end of the movie her little girl will be learning how to read. Because you don't mess with a mama bear. You just don't. If a mama bear is determined, if you back her in a corner, if you even think about messing with her cubs, she will eat you alive. Literally.
And at that moment, I cried. Because I knew. I knew I had changed and I'd never be able to look at the world like I used to again. I knew that instead of identifying with the teaching or activist aspect, I knew that I will forever look at the world with a mother's set of eyes.
The truth is, there are different roles as mothers and fathers. Men get to enjoy fatherhood - and it is a beautiful thing to watch men turn into fathers. When I watch movies like Taken , I know that the Mister identifies with the father and I know without a shadow of doubt, he'd go to the ends of the earth for our girls. But... motherhood. Le Sigh. There is an unspoken unity among us. It's really a crazy beautiful thing. I see it in the grocery store when a new mom is pushing her baby and another mom gives her a knowing smile. I feel it when a 60 year old woman gets teary eyed when she sees me out with my girls and it triggers memories of her early years as a mother. I see it at restaurants, churches, the gym, everywhere. All those who get to experience it, whether through adoption or giving birth, we see each other or these movies or read stories, and we see the world differently now. And when we see one another, we nod and raise our fists in solidarity. Don't mess with us. We are mama bears. And we will fight for our children.
So this post is for all the other mama bears out there in the trenches. Changing diapers, wiping snotty noses, making sure your kids are learning, prepping them for life, shaping the way they view God, holding them close, because you know that the days are long but the years are short... and soon enough you'll send your baby out into the real world. I see you. I see you working hard. Fighting the daily battle. I see you. And I raise my fist in solidarity, because we are mama bears and we're in this together.
Happy Monday yall.