Don’t Watch Bambi on Mother’s Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and a digital detox day for me. We did brunch at home, shopped for planter supplies, and planted a few flowers in the morning. In the afternoon we settled in to watch some movies and rest. In paging through our available kid-friendly movie selection, we ran across Bambi. I said, “Hey, we haven’t seen this one for awhile, want to watch it?” My little agreed, so we settled in.

It didn’t take long for her to ask, “Is this where he loses his mother?” A question that would be repeated several times throughout the movie.

What mother hasn’t contemplated what her child’s life would be like without her? Isn’t it this thought that keeps us from running off to a tropical island on days we’ve had enough? Kids make us show up. Especially little kids. They make us be present. Because what if I wasn’t there one day? How would that affect her?

This is my main “why” on my wellness journey. I am a little (and in some cases a lot) older than most of the moms of my daughter’s friends. I want to be fully present and active in her life for a long time to come. I want to be the mom who does things, not the mom who is too tired or sick to go on an adventure or too self-conscious to wear a bathing suit. I want to encourage that investigative, go for it, just do it attitude in her through example. I don’t want to constantly be saying, “No, Mama is too tired,” or thinking about how much time and effort is spent on a camping trip or sitting at the bottom watching her have all the fun. And when she’s older, I want to go on bigger adventures with her. Machu Picchu anyone?

So when the wintery scene appeared on the screen and Bambi’s mother finds the spring grass in the clearing, I braced for it. The music changed, Bambi’s mom perked up her ears and told Bambi to run. I got a lump in my throat when she told him, “Don’t look back!” Then the shot rang out. Bambi makes it to the thicket safely and says, “We made it mother!” When his mother doesn’t appear he goes out looking for her, calling for her as it starts to snow. Then his father appears and tells him, “Your mother can’t be with you anymore.”

One of our many jobs as mothers is to prepare our children to be fully capable, responsible, caring, active members of society by the time someone says these words to them. Any time tragedy strikes a child, I can’t help but get a lump in my throat and feel sadness flow through me, but the death of a primary caregiver is heartbreaking. Even when it happens to an animated character on the TV screen. Since it was Mother’s Day, the event was even more saddening.

Then came the expected question, “Did his mother just die?” If I wasn’t already choked up, I was now. I mustered everything I had in me to answer with only a little catch in my voice. “Yes. Isn’t that sad?”

My child is the best. I mean, what mother doesn’t say that, but when was the last time you really reveled in it and fully appreciated how wonderful these little people are? Yeah, they’re messy, loud, maybe even inconvenient at times. They have all of these activities you need to prepare, pack, and pay for, but can you imagine your life without them? How much more full and fantastic is your life because of this child? What would you be doing without her?

Sure, you would probably be in a better place financially and you would have more time to yourself, but what would you be spending that time and money on? I don’t know that I would be doing anything noble with it. I would probably be working and buying things I don’t need, maybe taking the occasional trip I wouldn’t remember because I was spending the whole time drinking and sobering up.

My child has made me see that there is more to life than just me and my narrow focus. Before I had my child I considered myself open-minded and worldly. I thought I knew what being a parent was all about. I thought I knew what compassion and forgiveness were about. I knew nothing. You really don’t know what you don’t know. Through her, I have learned about unconditional love. I have learned that there is something more important than myself and my ego. She has taught me more than I ever could have learned without her.

So, when she answered me about Bambi’s loss being sad with, “Yes, I don’t know what I would do without my mother.” I lost it. She came over to snuggle with me as Bambi grew up, got his antlers and everybody became twitterpated. She was still snuggling when we had the conversation that always accompanies this movie about being a responsible and respectful hunter. And my heart was full.

So, maybe you should watch Bambi on Mother’s Day, but don’t forget the tissues.

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