I love the scene in the movie Apollo 13 where astronaut Jim Lovell’s elderly mom learns that her son's ship has a problem (as in, "Houston, we have...") and that getting it and himself and his crew home is going to be tricky business.
Mrs. Lovell asks her granddaughter, "Are you scared?"—and then tells her, without qualification, "Don't be. If they could get a washing machine to fly, my Jimmy could land it."
There is just no fan club like the mom fan club. It’s not that moms think their kids can do no wrong; it’s just that they believe their kids can do so much right.
Our love is not blind, but it is bold. Mom love allows us to see what is possible from a slightly removed position that delivers us from the distraction of too many details.
For instance: my college-bound daughter plans to major in dance, but first, she has to audition for the program. The central piece of her audition is a solo in the style of her preference, to the music of her choosing, set to the choreography of her imagining. On the way home from our campus visit a few months ago, she played me one of the contender songs. I listened and could see her movements in my mind with no trouble at all. Passionate. Strong. Sure. Uninhibited, but not sloppy.
"I'm already crying, just thinking about it," I told her. "It will be incredible."
But my daughter isn’t so sure. She has the benefit (or maybe the curse) of knowing all the ins and outs, knowing the struggles, knowing what looks easy but is in fact so hard, knowing what could happen, knowing what she wants to happen.
I, on the other hand, have the luxury of looking in from the outside and seeing the big picture, seeing the results, seeing the output without the intrusion of too much information.
Later in Apollo 13, when the world is waiting to see just how lucky or unlucky 13 will turn out to be, Mrs. Lovell is visited by astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. They are introduced to her by Lovell's wife, and this proud mother asks them, "Are you boys in the space program, too?"
If all the world's a stage, a mother is aware there are other performers, but for her, the spotlight always follows her child.
This is the gift we give our children: love that does not demand the impossible but believes what is possible. Love that does not excuse wrong but expects right. Love that does not overlook limits but sees past them.
I’ve heard countless stories (you probably have, too) of grown children who triumphed over challenges or setbacks in early life and testify as adults that “nobody else believed in me, but my mom did. I’m here today because of her.”
I don’t want to be the only person who believes in my children, and I’m thankful I’m not, not by a long shot. But if this is a club, I am privileged to be its founding member, and I'll gratefully take my place as its president, for life.