Mother’s Day being days away, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk moms, daughters, and characters.
I’m not sure how old I was when I watched Terms of Endearment. I think I was somewhere near being a teen and so it didn’t take much to sympathize with Emma’s frustration about her mom’s ever-present criticism and the feeling that she’s never quite enough. For anyone.
I loved the movie, but I identified with it as a young woman and a daughter. I watched it again shortly after my own daughter was born, and experienced Aurora’s palpable grief at the loss of her daughter. Being powerless to save one’s own child, watching her suffer and praying for, if nothing else, relief for her daughter in death wrenched my heart. And then, realizing how incredibly foolish to believe that knowing her suffering was over would somehow make the loss any less like losing a piece of your own soul… well, boxes of Kleenex. Boxes.
Now, I have two grown daughters starting their own lives. Choosing careers, mates, home decor–regardless, I walk a tightrope to be supportive enough, helpful enough without stifling them or making them feel I don’t think that their choice is the absolute best choice. It is, for them; a distinction I think Aurora missed. I also wonder of she might not have realized that her criticism caused the very thing she feared–that her daughter wouldn’t live up to her potential.
As a mother, I learned from this character how to accept my kids as their own people. And love them so much I can’t breathe. As a writer, Aurora is a complex character that either arcs to late or just in time. I’m not sure which. But, that’s not a slight against the writing; it’s a compliment because Aurora Greenway has kept me thinking all these years later.