For a recent plane ride, I checked out “Toy Story 2” from the library for Lily. I hadn’t seen it in years, but as I saw and heard parts of it again – particularly Sarah McLachlan’s heartbreaking song “When She Loved Me,” which plays as the cowgirl doll Jessie tells her story of being loved by a child, and then left behind and forgotten as the girl grew up – I started tearing up.
I’m not a big movie-cryer at all, so at this moment, it finally dawned on me: the story of these films is, in essence, the story of parenting. Like the toys, moms and dads are the center of a child’s world for a time; and the warmth and love that a parent and child shower on each other, unabashedly, during these early years is powerful. But a big part of the parent’s job is to raise a child to be an independent adult who can stand on her/his own two feet. So as a mom or dad, being the bridge to your own obsolescence is natural and inevitable; yet after pouring years of love and effort into a child, it’s pretty wrenching to let go of the place you once held in his/her world.
(Seriously. Watch this clip with all this in mind, and just see if you don’t become a weeping puddle of goo by song’s end, too.)
Admittedly, the emotional impact may be further heightened for me by virtue of the fact that I have daughters, and this focuses on a young girl’s journey to adulthood.
But here’s hoping they won’t leave me in a box at the side of the road, at the very least.