In life, we have tons of social experiences, but only a few really close personal relationships. How we choose to deal with these experiences and to handle random situations really says a lot about who we are.
We can choose to be moral or act on impulse. We can be honest, or choose to lie. We can put the people that we love first, or we can live for right now and allow our most important relationships fall to the wayside. How we behave is our choice, and within our control. Last night's episode of Parenthood showed that theory from many different perspectives, in different types of relationships. And while I hope that you are watching the show, if you aren't please feel confident that I am using the storyline to illustrate some very basic, important points that apply to everyone. Stay with me here; I want you to read what I have to say in this blog post more than I've ever wanted you to read my blog before.
First, there is cheating. Crosby cheated on his fiance. Together they have a child. The moment he did this, he changed their family dynamic. Though he immediately realized the error of his ways, he has yet to be able to repair what he's done. He's detrimentally hurt his fiance, and now no longer lives with his son. What was most striking about his choice, though, was how it affected his sister's husband.
His sister, Julia, and her husband, Joel, bring their daughter to Crosby's fiance's (Jasmine's) house for babysitting. When they arrive, Jasmine starts to break down in tears, despite her attempts at holding back. As she cries, Julia sits down to comfort her, while Joel takes care of the kids. It is noted that he sees Jasmine's sadness. Later, and this is the part of the show that was most poignant (which is big), when Joel and Julia are back home, Joel sits down, gets eye to eye with Julia, and clearly tells her, "I will never cheat on you." He adds that they have been through so much, and will continue to go through so much in life, both good and bad, and he promises her that they will get through it together, again adding, "I will never cheat on you."
He's seen the damage it's caused, and he knows that he never wants to cause his wife that kind of hurt, regardless of the circumstances. It was the most moving scene in this episode. It shows love at it's finest hour.
This says a lot because watching Crosby deal with the ramifications of his actions, knowing how his one night stand has ruined his life, and his families lives, hits him hard. Yet he cannot turn back time. He tries to talk to his fiance, who wants nothing to do with anything that he has to say. He has to try and mend things, and to protect his son. He and his son have a moment on his house boat, where we see that he's finally gotten it and is willing to work for forgiveness, and it's a good, solid moment.
Finally, characters Christina and Adam have to explain to their son, Max, that he has Asperger's, that it is in the autism spectrum, and what having autism means. It's similar to the incident in the movie Parenthood, where the parents get called into school to hear that their son has emotional issues. As parents, we never expect our children to have problems. It's always going to be someone else's kid. When it's our child, we have to deal with our own emotions and feelings, while also thinking about how what we say and do is effecting our child.
We see the disappointment in Max when he learns that he is different, and that he will always have Asperger's. We see his parents, who are torn up about explaining this to Max, their marriage getting pushed and pulled around as they try to negotiate how to best follow-up with Max after their initial conversation. The episode ends with Christina reading Max to sleep, and her husband cozying up beside her, resting his head against her, comforted.
In both the marriages, we see the strength that exists in real, honest love. With the struggles, the problems, and all the stresses, they manage to sift through it all and find each other, time and time again. They open themselves up to vulnerability, and become each other's soft place to fall. They commit to each other every step of the way, in a loving, trusting way. They don't try to hurt each other or win arguments, but instead strive to protect their relationship.
As I write this, I am thinking about the ways in which I can be a better mother to my son, and a better partner to my boyfriend. I am thinking about what it means to love someone, and how I express my love. Mostly, I am thankful for the family that I have, and the love that exists within it. I will commit to working to protect that with every ounce of my being.