Friday, April 3, 2009

No Regrets

I'm sure this sounds ridiculous to anyone who read my last post, but I couldn't help renting the movie Marley and Me and bringing it home to watch with my husband and two older children. Yes, I worried about the pieces of adult content (the movie is rated PG, but I would probably choose to rate it PG13 myself--I really hate it when they do that--add just enough adult content to ruin it for kids. Dan and I had to distract Hallee and Nate at certain moments, not something you should have to do during a PG movie); and yes, I knew what was coming at the end; and yes, I even knew how I would react, but there are parts of that show that are so touching and so real that I couldn't help sharing it with a few of the people I love the most. (Now I must warn you, I share a bit of this movie in this post, so if you haven't seen it and don't want me to ruin it for you, you may want to stop and read no further).

For starters, John and Jen Grogan have an absolutely adorable relationship. It's hard not to get caught up in their fun-loving, supportive marriage and want them to succeed. But, like in all marriages, life isn't complete bliss, especially once they decide to take on a disobedient, massive dog!

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is called "No Regrets," and it begins by Jen apologizing about freaking out and screaming at John to get rid of the dog (Marley) because "he ruins everything." John suggests she might have post pardum depression, and she assures him she is not depressed--she's just exhausted. I can't help but feel empathy for John. It just seems that no matter how hard he tries, he just can't get it right. No matter what he says, Jen refutes it. And no matter what he does, Jen tells him he's doing it wrong. Yet he keeps on trying to please her and keep the peace, day after day. When he seeks counsel from co-workers on how to handle the situation, I found myself wondering if my poor husband has done the same thing from time to time, trying to come up with any logical explanation as to why his once-sane wife has gone off the deep end (I know what you're thinking: I guarantee Dan has done that from time to time--I had the same thought). What John probably doesn't know is that Jen knows she's being irrational and taking her frustrations out on an undeserving husband, and she knows it's unfair, but she just can't help herself (chronic fatigue does that to a woman).

Apologizing, Jen tells John she just got overwhelmed. "No one tells you how hard this is going to be," she says.

"Which part?" John answers facetiously.

"All of it." (Hello!! Has any of it looked easy? What an obvious answer!)"Jen goes on, "Marriage, being a parent. It's the hardest job in the world, and nobody prepares you for that. Nobody tells you how much you have to give up."

I like John's reply. "Sometimes I think they do tell you, but you don't listen or you think, ah, they're just miserable." Isn't that so true? I knew motherhood would be the most difficult thing I'd ever do, but I was sure I was prepared and could handle it. So naieve.

"I've given up so much of what made me who I am," Jen continues. "But I can't say that because I'm a very bad person if I say that, but I feel it. I really do--I feel it sometimes. I just want you to know that." Ever felt that way? I thought so.

"I do know that," John empathizes (of course--men always seem to think they know). "And you can say it. I say it."

Then comes my favorite part. Jen looks John in the eyes and says with conviction, "But I made a choice. I made a choice, and even if it's harder than I thought, I don't regret it."

"Are you sure?" John asks skeptically, "because it kind of has a 'there's no place like home' ring to it."

"I am very sure," Jen explains. "I just think these things are gonna happen, and we're gonna get through them, and we'll just do it together."

"Together," John repeats.

"Getting rid of Marley is not gonna fix anything . . .and getting rid of you isn't gonna fix anything, either." She smiles at this afterthought.

It's a touching moment. Then John has one request. "Can I ask you a favor?"

"Yes," Jen says with confidence.

"No more kids for a while."


And the next scene begins with Jen being wheeled out of the hospital with a new little baby in her arms.

I love it! That scene is so telling. It shows the reality of life as parents. It portrays the reality of life as a mom, especially a stay-at-home mom. We do give things up. We do lose ourselves from time to time in the midst of the daily grind of motherhood, and we do become overwhelmed and exhausted. BUT, at the end of the day, we have no regrets, and somewhere beneath the lack of makeup and the abundance of stretch marks, we feel at peace.

It's kind of a miraculous phenomenon, but it's true. Somehow God fills mothers with contentment and joy, despite babies with collic, potty training disasters, endless homework, interrupted phone calls, toddlers pulling on your leg all day, endless whining, endless fighting, endless, begging--still, we wouldn't trade it for the world.

No easy path, no promotions, no sleep or sanity, but no regrets, either.

It's a pretty great way to live!

(And by the way, yes, I did bawl my eyes out again. Only this time my husband was awake and prepared).


Kevin and Desiree Allen said...

I loved that show too! It is so true about motherhood. At some parts I felt weird sitting by Kevin. I kept wondering if he thought "Oh yeah, been there done that!" and "Wait Desi is pregnant again, so here we go again!" Oh well, it is life. Thanks for the post. I loved reading it!