A few weeks ago, my mom saw an early screening of my new movie, “Moms’ Night Out”, and I had the extraordinary privilege of seeing the world through her eyes as she processed it with me. My mom has always been my greatest cheerleader. At soccer games, she was the loudest lady on the sidelines. At school plays, when she wasn’t working backstage and moving scenery, she was organizing huge groups to come and see me perform. She must have seen my production of “Romeo and Juliet” 15 times. My mom has always been my biggest fan.
Last month, my parents left work early and drove two hours to see my film in my hometown, Stony Brook, NY. From 4 to 6 my time, I imagined my parents in the theater. I imagined what parts they were watching. I was excited to hear what they had to say about my performance and about the film. I hoped they would relate. I hoped they would love it. I was so excited to hear from my biggest fans. At about 6:30pm, my mom called and I could tell that she sounded weary.
I’m used to my mom calling and screaming and jumping up and down about my work, so this reaction caught me off guard.
She said, “Oh honey. It was wonderful”.
I prompted her with, “did you laugh?”
“Yes. I laughed so much. I think I cried even more. To be honest, I’m pretty emotionally exhausted.”
She went on to tell me that the whole experience was exhausting for her. Wonderfully exhausting. She was either laughing hysterically or there were tears pouring down her face for the entirety of the film. For her, though, the experience transcended the sum of its parts. Yes, the movie is so well made, and its funny, and there are so many laugh-out-loud moments, and yes, the movie is incredibly moving and relatable and so full of heart, but for my mom, her experience went deeper.
Let me try to paint a picture for you.
She turns off the highway and starts driving down the streets of my hometown, one she and my dad have since moved away from, and she’s remembering the sweet times and the crazy times of raising me, and my brother. She’s remembering giving me my biology lesson in the car while driving me three hours home from a production I was doing in New Jersey. She’s remembering her Mama Bear claws coming out at a bully who was horrible to me in school. She’s remembering holding me, and crying with me, after I broke up with my first boyfriend. And she’s also remembering the conflicts we had. The broken moments in our relationship… The inevitable and necessary pain of watching me grow up and become independent and separate from her, and begin to think differently about things as I became a woman, and a wife and a mother… She’s full of memories of being my cheerleader, and my defender and my confidante, of pouring herself into my life and my brother’s life while also working an additional full time job.
And these memories are equal parts joyous, painful, funny, exciting, and terrifying, because, I mean, isn’t that motherhood; all of these things together, at the same time?
Then she arrives at the theater and the lights go dim and there she is, watching her baby girl’s dream come true. The credits start and she hears my voice on a big, huge movie screen and she looks around at the other people in the theater wondering if they are going to love her girl and cheer for her girl and celebrate with her girl with a fraction of the love and delight that she has for her.
The movie continues and she watches my character, Ally struggle with feeling inadequate as a mom and as a wife and as a child of God, and my mom remembers my struggle with feeling inadequate as a mom and a wife and a friend, and she remembers that she struggled most of her life with those same feelings, and all she wants to do is yell at the screen, “you are beautiful, my darling! You are a warrior, my girl! You are more than enough, and you are so, so loved!”
She saw my struggle and her struggle and her heart broke for us both, mother and daughter. Then her heart laughed and released as she saw Ally struggle, and let go and begin to heal. And as Ally began to heal, so did my mom.
I had the privilege of watching a mother’s heart for her child as I experienced “Moms’ Night Out” through my mom’s eyes. I am a mom now, but my guy is only 2, and already my heart sings when he is happy and weeps when he is sad, but MY mom has watched her baby grow and grieve and delight and sing and worry and beat her self up, and forgive herself for 33 years, and believe me, her girl has gone through a lot. And my mom has felt every piece of it.
I am so honored to be a part of “Moms’ Night Out”, because the film looks into the heart of a mom and sees her for the warrior that she is. This film sees you and honors you. This film is a love letter to you, Mamas, pure and simple, and when you sit down and watch it, you will laugh and you will weep and something deep will release in you. Bring your husbands. They need to see who you are, and what you do, and how hard and brilliant and beautiful and terrifying and IMPORTANT your job is.
Come on! Flood the theaters opening weekend. It will be so good for your souls, I promise.