Last weekend, I watched, The Help. I’ve read the book, and seen the movie exactly 1500 times. After that many viewings, it’s not the tear jerker it use to be, except for one scene. In that one scene, I cry every time. Not little dainty, sniffly crying. No dear friends, I ugly cry. You know, the scrunched up, hiccup, snot run down your face, cry? That’s me.
About the time little Mae Mobley gets her bottom spanked for using one of the “used toilets” left on Hilly Holbrook’s lawn, my eyes start watering. After a few more scenes, it flips to Aibileen crouched down in front of a tearful Mae Mobley. Tears pour down my face, as I watch Aibileen smile and look Mae Mobley in her beautiful face, saying those now famous lines, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” She nods her head with each sentence, encouraging Mae Mobley to say it with her. Mae Mobley is a chunky, two year old, whose mother is ice queen, Elizabeth Leefolt. And in that scene, it is not just the viewers watching the precious exchange, it’s Elizabeth.
By this point, I’m full on ugly crying. And here’s why. In my busy schedule, trying to juggle all of the requirements of life, and also trying to make it look effortless, I wonder how many times, I am Elizabeth. Elizabeth, the character so consumed with everything being perfect, that she finds imperfection in her precious two year old. I’d like to think I’m not that eaten up with keeping up, but some times I wonder.
My children are far from perfect, and in the spirit of transparency, so am I. But, I sure spend unintended time making certain we are scrubbed, smiling and socially acceptable. I suspect we all do on some level. The reality is though, that we’re not.
We have bad days, weeks, sometimes months. Behaviors get out of control, feelings get hurt, and there are temper tantrums. Once in a while, it’s the adult version. My house gets grungy. The minivan gets disgusting. We do ugly well, people.
But in the midst of all of that, what my kids really need is me to stop, crouch down, look them in the eye, and talk straight into their hearts, “You are kind. You are smart. You are important.” Because the world will keep on spinning, whether my house is clean or not. TV and marketing will keep selling us the lie of all of the things we need to be “happy.” And the career “road to success” will stay ever ahead of us, bidding us to chase it.
Time with our loved ones, however, is not guaranteed. And, somehow daily, we need to stop in the chaos, and remind each other of how precious we are. Take a loved ones face in our hands, look them in the eye, and speak to their heart, “You are important.”