Chimpanzee, God and Faith

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Sometimes my children stop me in my tracks and make me think. Throughout the years, they’ve come up with questions that I have no answers to – philosophies that shock me. It is unexpected when your child suddenly turns into Confucius and comes up with a life philosophy that you actually share. It is shocking and it is equally beautiful.

David and I took the children to go see Chimpanzee – a movie that I absolutely loved. Mid-movie, my five-year-old Rain broke out in tears. Not subdued, hidden tears… these were dramatic, hyperventilating tears. Her tearful pain stemmed from the intense sense of empathy she felt as she watched baby Oscar lose his mother. The tears kept flowing for the rest of the movie. The reality that somebody could actually lose their mother was a heart-wrenching discovery for her. As a mother, it was painful for me to watch her go through that type of agony but at the same time it was also incredibly beautiful. Soon after, her brother joined the choir and tears started streaming down his face.

David and I were both touched and, in a weird way, happy that our children were so connected. Connected enough to feel what someone else was feeling. When the tears didn’t stop for Rain, I put my arms around her to comfort her. I tried to really get into her head with what was going on, to reassure her that I was there and that I would always be there for her. I tried to explain the circle of life, the many different things that happen in the animal kingdom and the positive parts of the movie – about survival and how different families take care of each other. It was an incredible moment.

That night when I went home and made my nighttime rounds, I was laying in bed with my 10 year old when she said, “Mommy, what if something ever happened to you? What would happen to me?” It is a question that comes up a lot with children, especially in a blended family. The questions kept rolling: What happens to us, who goes where, what about our brothers and sisters, will we stay together, will we be separated? It was a very difficult and painful conversation to have and not one that I was prepared for at that moment. However, I think that when your children are curious and when they are asking questions, those curiosities need to be discussed.

So I told her my wishes – that all the children would stay together as they are today because they would all need each other. We talked about the value and importance of family and how we are all raising each other. After our conversation, she took a beat, thinking deeply about everything we had just discussed. Suddenly, she floored me with a philosophy of her own. She told me that she believed that God had a plan for all of us. The plan was like a calendar with every single day written out; good days and bad days. And that God knew exactly what was supposed to happen in our lives. I just laid there in amazement. It was such an insightful philosophy coming from a 10 year old and a philosophy that I actually believe in.

I have always believed in destiny and I’ve always had faith in a divine plan. I thought it was a beautiful analogy – that what is meant to be will be. So we continued to talk and share. We talked about divine right, destiny and the power to make certain choices in our lives. We talked about the incredible feeling of safety that when you have faith in God and the safety that you can get when you know that you have a family that is there for you.

One of my favorite lines in Chimpanzee was, “You can always count on a mother’s love.” I wrapped my arms around my daughter, hoping she knew she could count on my love forever and always. I was thinking back to my own childhood, thinking about my own mother and how lucky I was to have those feelings. As a mother I hope that my children can always count on that.

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