During the Oscars, actress Laura Dern handed out the “Holy Grail” of compliments to her parents. In her moving speech after accepting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Dern said, “Some people say never meet your heroes but I say if you’re really blessed, you get them as parents.”
At the Oscars, Diane Ladd was just Laura Dern’s mom
The camera then panned to Dern’s mother, Diane Ladd, who was, understandably, tearful and emotional about her daughter’s big win.
And in that moment, Diane Ladd was all of us.
She wasn’t a famous actress in her own right.
She wasn’t the woman once married to Dern’s equally famous father.
She was simply a mom basking in the glory of watching her child achieve a big dream.
And it gave me all the feels because I have been the parent who has held her breath in the audience when my son has been up for an academic award.
We parents feel exhilarated when our kids’ succeed
I’ve been the anxious parent in the stands hardly able to watch as my daughter bounces the basketball at the free throw line with only minutes left on the clock.
Time and again, I’ve rooted for my kids and in the moments when they shine, those moments when I can see the joy of achievement on their faces, I want to capture that feeling in a bottle to have forever.
The exhilaration a parent feels when their child succeeds is one of the greatest joys of parenting.
Because as parents, we know how hard they’ve worked to get to the top.
We’ve watched them stumble through difficult tutoring sessions because Algebra just doesn’t come easily.
We’ve watched them limp off the field from an injury that threatens to bench them for the rest of the season.
We’ve held them as they’ve cried over theater roles that went to another kid and varsity letters that seem just out of reach.
We’ve seen the agony of defeat on our kids’ faces more times than we care to admit and every low point stings us to our core.
So, when those big moments come, the ones where your teen has joy and excitement all over his face from a job well done, it can be hard not to fall to your knees and break down right on the spot. Because we want nothing more than for our kids to feel validated after months of training or rehearsing.
We want our kids to know what it feels like to hear thunderous applause or a stadium chanting their name.
On a simpler level, we want our kids to see a passing grade in a subject that has consumed their study time for months or barge out of the DMV after having passed their driver’s test with flying colors.
We want the big moments for our kids because we all remember what it was like to ace parallel parking during our own driving tests, right?
I don’t feel the least bit guilty for saying that I’m the mom clapping the loudest during the high school musical’s standing ovation or at the finish line of a cross country race.
We are our kids’ biggest cheerleaders
And I always will be, no matter what levels of success the achieve after high school.
Recently, I found myself watching the Super Bowl with my husband, teens, and in-laws. The room looked as you’d expect: my husband and I trading barbs about our teams, our teens sprawled on the couch and floor with their noses in their phones all while my mother-in-law keeping a steady stream of appetizers ever at the ready. Though we were all “watching” the game, it wasn’t until the last few minutes of the game that we all sat riveted to our seats as the Kansas City Chiefs pulled off an amazing comeback.
As I watched Damien Williams cross the end zone with the winning touchdown, my eyes filled with tears. Not because Kansas City had just won their first Super Bowl in 50 years and not because it was a bittersweet win for their coach, Andy Reid, who had recently lost his adult son to a drug overdose.
I was crying as I thought of how proud Williams’ mom and family must have been in that big end zone moment.
I wondered if his mother sat back and thought, “Well, all of those nights driving to football practice were worth it” or “I guess I can forgive him for ruining every pair of white football pants he ever owned.” I wondered if she, like Diane Ladd, surrendered to the joy and soaked up every single second.
I wondered if Damien thanked her for being his biggest fan. For a man who said, “It’s a good feeling being able to make my family happy,” and making his mom scream with delight upon signing his contract with Kansas City, I wondered if he gave his mother a proper “Laura Dern” style phone call after the game.
Mostly, though, I wondered if she was crying as hard as I would be if my kid had just won the Super Bowl.
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