Monday, November 17, 2008

Dumbo

I love Sundays at our house. We declare it family day, we go to church and recharge our spiritual batteries, we come home, and have lunch, and then Max who is exhausted from running laps around the chapel and eating all the other kids snacks zonks out for a good two to three hour nap. That's when Shane and I calmly discuss who got the Sunday nap last week and therefore should get to hang out with Mason so the other partner can have a nap. Sunday naps are a most coveted item in the Notes household, and although we try to be civil this conversation usually ends with a wrestling match to see who can get to the bed first. Mason thinks its hilarious and knows that really he's the winner, because he doesn't have to take a nap at all.

So last weekend I lost, so while Shane took a nap Mason and I picked a movie from our extensive Disney collection. This Sunday's pick: Dumbo. Mason had never seen it before and I thought how lovely and wholesome, I forgot how sensitive my little one is... All was fine and good until the kids started making fun of Dumbo's ears. "Why are they doing that Mommy?" and then the horror when they pulled Dumbo away from his mom. My son was in anguish, "what are they doing to his mom?" and then almost pleading, "He needs his mommy!" I could see the therapy bills piling up and I asked Mason if he wanted to turn it off. "No" he said unable to tear his eyes away from the screen, "just stay here and watch it with me." "Ok, bud, I promise it will turn out ok." I put my arm around him and he snuggled in closer. So we watched together and I reassured Mason over and over again that it would all work out and I thought back to my own childhood and tried to remember how I perceived Dumbo's predicament when I saw it for the first time. Perhaps it was because I was so busy reminiscing about my own childhood that I was so unprepared for what happened next. The little mouse takes Dumbo to see his mother and from where she is chained to the wall she can't even see him she can only reach her trunk out, catch up her perfect little baby, and rock him, and yes I know you can all hear it too... "Baby mine don't you cry..." And all of a sudden I am BAWLING! Seriously an uncontainable blubberfest, and I realize that this is the first time I have seen Dumbo through a mother's eyes. This is something I was completely unprepared for, the intense empathy I can feel for Mrs. Jumbo. I was a rock before I had kids, I even remember pointing a mocking finger at my own mother who cried during Hallmark commercials. Now a cartoon elephant makes me cry. Now you can blame the increased emotionality on hormones, or age, or whatever you want, but I think that I know the truth, its a deep dark secret that no one tells you before you have kids. Its not that they don't want you to know, its not that they don't want to explain it to you, its just that there are no words that can truly describe the intensity of feeling so you wouldn't believe them anyway. I realized the truth of the secret the first time I held my tiny one his little lungs unable to work on their own, knowing that I would do anything to make him better, to take away the hurt, and also knowing that I couldn't. I couldn't fix it or make it go away, I could just hold him and rock and sing and comfort. That's when I learned the secret: that mother's are truly the strongest creatures on Earth, and also the most vulnerable because mother's have the most to lose, because holding my babies, and sheltering them from (albeit Disney induced) fear I know that I have in my arms the greatest gift to humankind, my child. Many writers have tried to describe love, but my feeling for my children is more intense, and more powerful, its not emotional, its biological, its hardwired into my soul. And if I ever were to lose...well let's not go there, its too awful, but that my friends is why Dumbo makes me cry. So the next time that sappy "Baby Mine" song comes on the old lady radio station, and your mom tears up, don't laugh or point, because now you know that you made her that way, because loving you has made her feel more deeply than any human should have to, and because although you may be grown she can still see in her mind the time when you resembled that little elephant and she lovingly rocked and sang and comforted.

At our house that time is present, and maybe that's another reason I have such tender feelings for that little Dumbo...

I think there's a bit of a resemblance.

9 comments:

Michelle said...

Well I will now add that movie to my "do not watch" list along with Bambi. Remember...his mom dies in that one!

Umm...I cried at a Sears commercial about parents giving famous kids life guidance through Christmas presents. Also cried at a Lifetime original about a baby getting adopted to the highest bidder...of course you are SUPPOSED to cry watching those. (Why I was watching a lifetime original is a whole other story.)

Yes, I would say mother's are wired differently.

beth - total mom haircut said...

Oh my goodness! I have a very related post going up on Imperfect Parent in like an hour. I even mention Dumbo.

Can I link to this in my post on my own blog? We're talking about similar themes but I love where you took it. I'm all weepy now. Lovely post.

girlymama said...

"baby mine" is the lullaby that my two girls sing to our new baby.

it gets me every time!

Pearl said...

What a touching post, and well said! Now I am feeling all weepy.

When my daughter was just a few days old, I cried over an episode of Tyra Banks's talk show. Now that's a little scary! I think people did try to tell me how becoming a mom would change me, but you are right, it is something that just cannot be explained, it must be experienced.

koster family said...

I loved your posts--it captured motherhood perfectly. Too many thoughts ran through my head while I was reading it to actually write what they all were, lets just say I got a tear in my eye. I'm really proud to be a mother and I'm so lucky that GOD gave me the opportunity.

Amy said...

I would've been crying too!! I'll be adding that to the "don't watch right now" list LOL

Sara said...

Okay, with one little post I laughed and cried at the same time. I have already vowed to never have Dumbo in our house...or, like Michelle, Bambi. I was always a blubberer, but now after kids I am the world's biggest blubberer. I really loved the way you put it all to words. Those are my sentiments exactly!

karen said...

you do amaze me...you further my belief that if women were in charge there would be no wars....

Bree Biesinger Despain said...

This post made me tear up. Very beautiful. I can't believe the things I cry at now days--especially anything where a child is in danger. I bawled at the end of Bolt and that's not even supposed to be a heart-wrenching movie.