It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Every year, around Mother’s Day, television schedules, streaming platforms and cinemas all try to bombard us with movies about Mums. It makes some kind of sense, I suppose, that on the specific weekend when we are encouraged to celebrate motherhood, maternal figures, and those that gave us birth, we could settle down and watch something nurturing with the special, authoritative ladies in our lives.
The trouble is, they always seem to be of a very particular type. You know which movies I’m referring to – the schmaltzy, overly-saccharine, rose-tinted views of women that parent, like Terms Of Endearment, Stepmom, or Steel Magnolias. I like musical cinema as much as the next person, but I have no intention of sitting through The Sound Of Music with my own offspring on Mothering Sunday.
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That’s because motherhood isn’t like a Sally Field dramedy, and in my experience, it’s certainly never involved spinning while grinning and singing anywhere in the Alps. On the contrary, it’s a challenging, maddening, exhausting roller-coaster ride that can be as demoralizing as it can be rewarding. It can make you feel entirely inconsequential, then suddenly, ten feet tall – all in the space of one day – and that’s the true beauty of it. It can bring laughter, tears and fears, and some of the greatest moments of your life – but it requires fortitude, persistence and gritty determination, in equal measure.
So, rather than slip into a diabetic coma from sugar-coated renditions of the marvel of motherhood, let’s indulge ourselves in an alternative Mother’s Day movie watchlist. Herein lies acknowledgement of reality, and consequently, the greatest celebration of what it is to nurture. Because not everybody fills the maternal role by having a tiny person claw their way out of their depleted, swollen body – just as not everybody that makes a person fills the maternal role. A ‘mother’ can take many forms, and means many things to different people.
The key is in the constancy – that reliable someone who provides support and emotional sustenance without judgement or expectation. Some days, that relationship is like the musical comedy Mamma Mia!, while other days, it’s more like the horror film Mama. Always, it’s an important and influential bond that needs a realistic bunch of movies to truly honour its entire spectrum.