If you’re raising littles or younger kids, last night’s This Is Us may have circulated agonizing fear through your mom heart. Some of you no doubt scurried down a rabbit hole of self-evaluation, ruminating over all the things you’ve already done to screw things up.
I get it. Every mom dreads the thought of raising kids who need therapy to heal from all their mistakes, failures, shortcomings. I also get it because I’m the actual mom who has kids who have already had therapy to heal from all my mistakes, failures, shortcomings. So, when I say last night’s episode touched on every conceivable nerve of my motherly being, I’m not exaggerating.
Why am I willing to admit this to the world? Well, if you’ve read any of my writing in the past, you know I’m not one to shy away from vulnerability because one of my mantra’s is #authenticityheals. And this concept defines the entire undercurrent last night between the Big 3, Rebecca, and even the ‘others’—Toby, Beth, and Miguel.
One of the perks of reaching the mom-of-adult-children stage is seeing the fruits of our labor begin to ripen. Of course, we hope the produce is sweet, unblemished, healthy. But, chances are some rotten fruit is going to be part of the harvest. Our fallen nature guarantees we won’t get everything right.
If you’re anything like me, you spend an obscene amount of time second-guessing and criticizing your decisions, actions, and overall mom competency. Sadly, insecurity runs deep in a mom’s world, and the fragile nature from which we try to do everything with perfection creates a heap of dissatisfaction within.
Fortunately, as our kids age, we come to realize the inner-directed blame game was mostly a ruse, and our kids turn out way better than we gave ourselves credit for while bringing them up. I can say this because overall my kids are successful, secure, loving, confident, healthy adults, despite my failures. This because the hubs and I loved them hard.
Which is why the focus of what happened between the Big 3 and Rebecca last night shouldn’t be on the mess of the therapy session, or even on the mess of what caused the dysfunction between them in the first place. The hallmark of the episode was how the show ended: three siblings coming back together even though a painful emotional dump by Kevin resulted in a string of accusations, insults, assumptions, judgements between them.
Only one word explains the quick turnaround: love
Although dysfunction indeed existed during their formative years, the scene with all three sitting on the bench by the lake was the truer testament of their upbringing. Love had to be the dominant force in their childhood, otherwise pushing past their egos, swallowing their pride, apologizing, and choosing forgiveness wouldn’t have been the outcome.
When you raise multiple kids, you can count on tension, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and jealousy. Different personalities—often birth order alone—guarantees varying life views, behavior styles, perceptions. The Big 3, despite being the same age, experienced all of this and more with the challenges surrounding the adoption of Randall.
Considering these dynamics, the positive takeaway from the therapy session is that communication happened at all. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be vulnerable and speak from the heart. Fear of judgment and non-acceptance only two reasons many of us hold back more times than we share. To me, the fact Kevin, Kate, and Randall dared to risk was yet another affirmation of a strong, secure, loving upbringing. I’m blessed to have children who choose this form of vulnerable communication with me and each other.
Perfection should never be the goal in mothering. Doing our best should be the gold standard. And our best may not always be what a specific child needs at any given moment. But it’s all we have to offer. Rebecca’s experience and conversation with Kevin at the end grips the heart because it’s obvious she tried to do her best.
Between the bad cop role, of which I am too familiar, and taking the brunt of emotional fallout, motherhood is often a thankless job. Raising multiple kids means there’s a 100% chance we’ll fall out of step with one kid or another at some point because our heart tends to magnetize to the child we see in need of something extra. Which means the other kid(s) may feel overlooked, left out, invisible during these moments.
But, as Randall pointed out, the key is to remember we all see life through different lenses, none of which are right or wrong. Some lenses can appear blurry to one family member while being in perfect focus to another. The real blessing is in accepting both views.
Will the Pearson family need to have more uncomfortable and painful conversations to find authentic healing? Absolutely. Life is a journey. Humans are complicated. We will never get everything right. But one thing we can’t get wrong, unless we go out of our way to do so, is to love. In the end, love is the bedrock we must provide our kids to ensure they have something to stand on in their darkest hours.
Love is the great healer. And I believe God’s greatest gift to humanity. May we all be givers of this gift.