Steve and I like two genres of TV: well-written, thoughtful shows and smutty reality shows. Any of that shit in between, we don’t waste our time on. We always end up watching each other’s shows, sooner or later. So when Parenthood came out awhile ago, it was a bit surprising I didn’t even give it a chance after Steve raved about it. Maybe that’s because I know it’s based on the movie by Ron Howard and I have a strong aversion to redheads. Anyway, sooner became later and I am now hooked on it right along with him. It is just so damn well-written.
One of the story lines follows Erika Christensen, who is adopting a baby. The birth mother is staying with her while she is pregnant. Erika admirably tries to shield the birth mother from the many emotional triggers that comes with trying to detach yourself from a natural attachment that already exists. She doesn’t show her the nursery, telling her husband it would be a bit awkward for her to see the room her baby is going to live in, the room belonging to the baby that is her’s now, but won’t be once it is born. Problem is, those triggers are everywhere and there is no way to prevent the birth mother from them all.
They go to a birthing class and the instructor tells them that labor is hard and terrible but it’s all worth while when you’re holding your baby in your arms. The birth mother leaves the room, and begins to cry. And here I am on my couch, crying my eyes out. Crying for the birth mom because I know exactly how she feels and crying for Erika Christensen who comes rushing out after her, undoubtedly thinking now she might not give her baby up for adoption after all.
It is easy to appreciate the sacrifice a birth mother makes, but so difficult to understand the feeling. It might even be impossible for anyone to understand who hasn’t been through it. I feel silly when I cry at one of those emotional triggers, even now, six and a half years after Gracie was born. But the fact is, it is unnatural to grow a baby inside of you for nine months and completely detach yourself from it. This is your flesh and blood: a life you have created. I have never completely detached myself from Gracie, and that’s why that show last night made me cry uncontrollably.
But it was a bit cathartic, as well, feeling as if someone understands what it feels like. Even though the birth mother is an actress in Hollywood, it was written so realistically that I felt as if she was really a person with those real feelings who could really empathize with me.
People tiptoe around the subject with me or avoid it all together or bring it up awkwardly so as to act like they’re not avoiding the subject, but either they think it’s awkward to talk about, or they think I’ll think it’s awkward to talk about. Really, I just feel like no one understands what I’m feeling and will think it’s ridiculous when I cry at some silly thing that reminds me of Gracie.
But the show last night reminded me it’s not ridiculous. I’m attached to someone who was once attached to me, living off my body until she had grown into her own. There is nothing ridiculous about that, no matter how many years have passed, she remains a part of me and I of her.