The Thing I Like About …

Mama: the kids don’t care what Mama looks like.

In Mama, a baby and her slightly older sister are left in a cabin in the woods to fend for themselves. Luckily, there’s a spirit in the house to help them get by – finding food, singing them to sleep, the usual spirit stuff.

Eventually, they’re found by an uncle and his wife, and taken in by this loving family … but they don’t want to let go of their spirit-mother, and she doesn’t want to let go of them. That’s when the spooky stuff starts happening for the family.

But in the end, it’s not really about ghosts or spooky stuff or any of that. It’s about love.

The kids – especially the one who was a baby when they were abandoned – have never really known any other mother, or even any other kind of caregiver. They received from this dire-looking spirit woman all the nurturing and love and comfort that they didn’t receive from their biological parents. They felt safe and cared for, and they love their spirit-mother. They don’t care what she looks like, or if she’s different.

Because it turns out that the best parent isn’t the one with the most money or the biggest house or the nicest clothes or the best toys – or even the one who can take corporeal form; it turns out that the best parent is the one who shows up, who cares, who does her/his best, and acts from love.

And it turns out that love really is in the heart – not the eyes, or the ears, or the pocket book. It turns out that, no matter what they might say as they’re bombarded by peer-pressures, advertising, and … shall we call them “interesting” … television “realities”, in the end children just want someone to take care of them, to accept them for who they are, to be there for them, and to sing them to sleep.

Maybe once you’re dead, you don’t have any of the fears or insecurities left – the ones that keep you from knowing what love looks like, or being your best self, or acting from the heart. Maybe that’s why a ghost turned out to be a pretty good parent.

But I’m hoping the living can figure it out too.

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