Monday, February 15, 2010

Human Mothers Make A Stand

Monday was a teacher planning day, so I took the day off from work and spent it with my boy. He tore through the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (I've read the first book), and was so excited when the movie "The Lightning Thief" finally came out!

A little bit of a spoiler here: In some ways, I wish I hadn't read the book first. The movie was really good, but some major characters were left out and some of the story was changed in a really fundamental way, which really bothered my son. Percy isn't supposed to wear the flying shoes because it makes him vulnerable to Zeus. But in the movie, Percy wore them. That really irritated Z! On this one, I think seeing the movie first, then reading the book might be the preferred way of doing it.

But I digress.

Watching this movie, I was really caught up by the mother. She's kind of a minor character in both the book and the movie, even though she's ultimately the reason Percy does the things he does. She is married to an abusive oaf, about as off-putting a person as you could think of. Yet she takes care of the house, works outside the home and brings the guy beer whenever he asks for it. She has a history of selflessness, giving up her own dreams to take care of a dying uncle, foregoing college and working in a candy store to make her way in the world. Then she falls in love, has a baby, and does whatever she can to protect this very special child. She sacrifices herself for the benefit of the child.

She is a mere mortal, dealing with the realms of gods in the best way she can - with pure love, which turns out to be the best motivator - for Poseiden to help his son, for her son to become the hero she knows he is - and in saving his mother, Percy saves the world.

In real life, mothers tend to become secondary characters as their children grow up and discover themselves. They hover in the background offering love and encouragement to children who don't always see her there. By then, the children go places the mother can't. They are in their own lives.

I know this happened to my mom. It's beginning to happen to me. I am no longer the center of my son's life. He has friends he'd much rather hang around with than me (or his dad). I know this trend will continue for years, until he moves out and is on his own - and doesn't give us a passing thought more than every few days.

I am sad and thrilled all at the same time. He feels confident enough in himself to reach beyond his family for company. It means that I'm doing my job well. But I miss him. The house feels so odd and empty when he's not here breathing the same air. My husband and I enjoy our time together but at the same time, there's a sense of aimless rattling around and every other thought is of our son - is he safe? Is he having fun? Is he getting enough sleep or eating something other than junk? And we can't wait until he comes home again.

Percy manages to save his mother from the Underworld. And as soon as they're back "home", she has to let him go again.

Sometimes, art really does imitate life.

In the words of the Mother... "someday, it will all make sense."


Hoosier Girl said...

I completely understand. I had a really hard time when Joseph went off to college - and I still get these random pockets of panic: is he okay? does he need anything?

It will happen all over again when Rachael goes this fall. Being a mom is tough!


PinkPiddyPaws said...

It's on my list of things to see. That damn list keeps getting longer!

thisnewplace said...

oooh i dread the time when they really go for good like that. their independence makes us feel useless huh.

malcolm said...

If the move is out already when you determine to read the book it is always better to go see the movie first then read the book. Then you will rarely be disappointed. You can find out how deficient the move was after you have already enjoyed it, and if the movie was good in itself, you will enjoy the book even more.