More than ever, I appreciate the skillfulness of my own parents in how they stood by me in my 20s, despite some of my less than stellar decisions, and I am also inspired by my mother-in-law's strength, pragmatism and acceptance of her sons' choices. I am thrilled when I happen upon other wonderful examples of parenting adult offspring.
This weekend we saw a very entertaining recently-released film, "5 to 7". It is a romantic comedy and drama with unusual depth and thoughtfulness. It is the delightfully written and exquisitely filmed story of a 24-year-old aspiring writer who lives in New York City and his love affair with a beautiful 30-something-year-old married French woman and mother of two who has an "open marriage". As the parents of a son who is also 24, and who resembles the main character in his sincerity, idealism, creativity and goodness, this was not an easy love affair for us to watch!
While all the characters in this film are wonderfully real and compelling, we were particular drawn to the depiction of the lead character's parents, who are played by Glenn Close and Frank Langella, whose affectionate bantering is touching and hilarious. This is a film about love, but it is not only about a romantic love affair. It is also about love and trust in a marriage, it is about how to love an adult son who is making some questionable decisions that are hard to accept, and about a mother's love for her young children. Much of the commentary on love is presented through the dedications on Central Park bench placards that are interspersed throughout the film.
We had the pleasure of hearing the writer and director of the film, Victor Levine, speak about the film after the screening. I loved learning that the funny quirkiness of Glenn Close's character is partly based on his own mother's antics. I want to channel her character's inspiring ability to cast aside her preconceived notions as to how her son should lead his life, and embrace the woman he loves and who loves him, despite the initial shock and ongoing concerns of the circumstances of their relationship and the potential downsides of this romantic liaison. Although her character is critical of her son's desire to be a writer and nags him to attend law school instead, she is unconditionally supportive of him when he falls in love, even though I suspect her "mom radar" detects that this might not end well for him. Glenn Close's character motivates me to judge and lecture less, and appreciate the directions our children's lives might take them, and perhaps remember that being their parent and a part of their lives is more of a privilege than ever.