This morning started not unlike any other: shut off the alarm at 4:45 am, got out of bed, turned TV on. The news channel reported ugly news and pretty weather. I never stray from the news, almost religiously absorbing the onslaught of information, yet this morning something was pushing me to change up my normal routine. I started flipping the channels. I stumbled on the movie called "I am Sam", which is about a mentally retarded father (Sam) who fights for custody of his daughter. I've never seen the movie in its entirety (and it’s been out for almost 10 years!) Probably for the same reason I've never watched the “Schindler's List” in its entirety. Reason: I am a chicken. I am afraid that I might see that something which will tip the scale of my sanity and I won't be able to go on...But this morning, I couldn't help it. Through the thick blanket of tears I watched the tender and heart-wrenching moments including the scene when, after a court hearing, Sam’s daughter is being ripped out of his arms to be sent to a foster home.
I cried like a baby. Or should say like a grown woman. I have found that if we are truly honest with ourselves, most of the time we cry NOT just purely because we feel someone else's pain. No. We cry because this pain, or at least its seeds, resides within us, repressed or expressed. Listen, I am no dummy. I know I am impressionable and I know that it’s a romanticized version, "based on a true story”. A Hollywood fiction of sorts. I get it. But the movie tells an important story and illustrates a universal truth (at least it seems to me as such). This movie is about how to be a good human being. It’s about unconditional love, which is THE most important ingredient in the often messy, sometimes inedible, sometimes earth-shuttering soup called parenthood. I cried because I didn't recognize myself in Sam as much as I wanted to. I want to be THAT kind of a parent. Always. Every day. No breaks and no exceptions! A saying goes: "be the person your dog thinks you are". Kids are closer to the natural world because they can intuitively spot a fake. I want to be the person my son thinks I am.
There is an old story about three men, who are allowed to ask for one wish to be fulfilled by the Almighty. The first man asks for more wisdom, the second one asks for more patience and the third asks for a cup of coffee. The first two men look at him, puzzled. The third man just shrugs his shoulders and says, "everyone asks for what they don't have enough of”. I wouldn’t mind more patience and wisdom, but if I could ask the Almighty for one thing it would be to help me be a better parent, with an unshakable ability to love unconditionally, no expectations, no judgment, no baggage, in a pure uncomplicated way, every day. It’s the hardest and the most important quality to attain. But I guess everyone does ask for what they don’t have enough of. Perhaps it’s pedestrian and not unique, but I don’t care. You could say that from now on, I am a Sam wannabe.
"Will you not be mad at me for one second? Because I want to tell you one thing, OK? Because last night, I was writing you a letter...and then the words, they got too big. Gesundheit, Floppy. Floppy has a cold.
And then I said...
Dear Lucy, I'm sorry I maybe hurt your feelings…and I was thinking about you all the time.
Lucy on a hammock…
and Lucy at school...
and Lucy in the sky and kisses and hugs, Daddy.
And P.S. I love you, like the song."
I am Sam, 2001