And the Winner is…Mom
I’d like to thank my mother. Right now and in print. In the off chance I should someday win an award for a spectacular achievement in God knows what, I would like her to remember that once I thanked her from the bottom of my heart when I was just a plain old awardless person.
Much hoopla has been made over the fact that so many Oscar winners thanked their mothers from the podium this year. Many reviewers found the trend sickeningly sentimental. I wonder if those critics are the parents of adult children. As the mother of three grownups, I’d rather hear one tearful award-winner thank his mother than listen to a thousand thanking God, which has become a far more common phenomenon in recent years. I have no argument with God, but really, did he change that newly anointed Oscar-winner’s diapers? Did God encourage the best actress winner to follow her heart’s desire even if that meant shooting for the stars in a profession riddled with unemployment and shattered dreams? Did God foot the bill for acting lessons or dance classes or a college education in the very practical and wide open field of screenwriting? Did God comfort the discouraged and distraught child each time he was flippantly rejected for a role that would have fit him to a tee? Okay, maybe God did, but so did Mom.
I found the unrestrained gratitude for mothers to be one of the least excruciatingly dull aspects of the Academy Awards ceremony which felt long enough to gestate, give birth, and raise a child to maturity. Aaron Sorkin’s eloquent acknowledgment that his parents made it possible for him to live his life in the rarefied air of Hollywood, was far easier on the ear than the f-bomb dropped by Melissa Leo. Natalie Portman’s great-grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz. Three generations later she is a Hollywood darling. Why not celebrate the people who brought her to this moment? And Tom Hooper, Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech, would not have made his movie had his mother not sprouted the idea. His admonition to “listen to your mother” was classier than anything that came out of James Franco’s mouth in four and a half hours. Even David Seidler, a gray- haired man in his seventies who won an Oscar for best original screenplay, gave a nod to his father who had always claimed his son would be a late bloomer. Seidler’s remark received more affectionate laughter than did any of the lame jokes the scriptwriters had foisted on poor, hapless Anne Hathaway.
The parent who nurtures a child for the kudos to be received down the road, should probably not have been a parent in the first place. Our rewards are most often quiet and private. When a child waxes nostalgic about a shared family experience long past, our hearts swell with joy. When a grownup child calls, not to ask for a favor or because he promised he would, but just because he felt like chatting, that’s a big, fat thank-you. And it is enough.
Children are not ordinarily blessed with the opportunity to thank their parents before millions of onlookers. We should applaud those few, who, in their moments of glory see fit to acknowledge those whose contributions did not merit a credit on the screen, but whose influence was nonetheless profound. I applaud them, critics be damned.
And, thank you Mom.
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