Years ago, I was working with a lovely lady who underwent a radical personality change after she came back from maternity leave.
News snippets had her in floods of tears, as did overhearing any conversation regarding hurt children, animals or garden variety general ugliness.
I can still remember her telling me she could no longer watch horror movies or any flick with violent imagery, because now that she understood what it was to create a life, she couldn’t bear anything that hinted at destroying one.
“Wow, what a sad way to live,” I thought to myself in the arrogant way only someone in her late teens could think. “When I have kids, I will NEVER be like that.”
Fast-forward 20+ years to a moment I walk in on my family sitting down to watch The Karate Kid – one of my favourite movies when I was a child.
“You’re in a for a treat,” I told the girls as I settled down next to them, all warm and glowing at the memory of Daniel-San and his bond with Mr Miyage. Less than two hours later, I was staring at the credits with my jaw dropped and spit pooling. What the hell was that?
First of all, it was far more violent than I’d remembered, but also what’s up with letting your child hang out with an old man day in, day out without really checking the situation thoroughly?
Obviously, we all know Mr Miyage was a stand-up guy, but I think there could have been a parental talk or two given the fact the man had just given Daniel the car of his choice.
It’s not just The Karate Kid, I felt the same way when I watched Grease for the first time as an adult recently and discovered there was so much I had glossed over when I was a kid — sexual assault, bullying by so-called ‘friends’, changing who you are to please the man you love.
I spent the whole move shouting over the music to give my kids life lessons on why the messages they were absorbing were completely wrong.
Did they care? Nope, because they’re kids and they don’t see and hear the things we can’t help notice as adults.
There’s just no easy way to say it, but I just cannot watch movies anymore – not in the same way I used to before I had children.
Before my babies were born, I could watch movies filled with mass killing, intolerable cruelty and end-of-the-world destruction.
Now? Even the sight of a promotional poster for A Dog’s Way Home gets me all choked up and finding a movie that isn’t going to send me into hysterics on a flight is Mission Impossible.
Although I can strangely still enjoy zombie movies where everyone’s frantically eating one another’s brains — mainly due to the face it’s so removed from reality — it’s a big NO from me for anything that involves violence, cruelty, children or border collies.
“Why do you cry so much in movies?” my daughter asked one day after I bawled my way through Red Dog (don’t do it to yourself).
I took some time to think about it and I remembered my old work colleague.
“When you have a child, you finally understand what love really is,” I told her.
“It takes a mother all of her love, time and energy to raise another human and to protect that human so the thought of something happening to take it all way is just too much to think about.”
She thought this over for a moment before she replied: “Wow, mums are really messed up, aren’t they?” and I gave her a small smile.
I know she thinks I’m a sad individual, but I also know that her time – long after she’s pushed another human out into the world and come to know love the way only a mother can – will come.
It happens to us all in the end and frankly, when I think about the alternative, I’m more than a little thankful.