Mother to the Man or Why Happily Married Middle-Aged Mothers Love The Winchesters
Before I begin my dissertation on Why Happily Married Middle-Aged Mothers Love The Winchesters, I should declare my bias, and cite the facts about me.
1. I am a Happily Married Middle-Aged Mother Who Loves The Winchesters.
2. I am a Dean Girl. That's because Dean reminds me of my husband. (I've been lucky enough to know my husband, and love him much longer than I've been acquainted with Dean. The bonus? Hubby is real! And he rarely goes to Hell, except when I inadvertently offer that suggestion during a heated discussion. "It frustrates me when you"...) Dean and my husband share the same haircut and much of the same personality. Sarcastic cynic on the outside, covering a mushy marshmallow centre oozing with love, and the need to nurture and protect.
3. I am Canadian. Doesn't really matter much except that I'll play to the stereotype of my nation, and mention ice hockey, at least once.
3. I am Canadian. Doesn't really matter much except that I'll play to the stereotype of my nation, and mention ice hockey, at least once.
Hockey is actually where my thesis begins. My husband and I share a spot on a co-ed team. One Friday night, during Season 4, it was his turn to play, and my turn to stay home with our daughters (now 9 and 7). After they were safely tucked into bed, I started channel surfing. I landed on this really handsome man, with his leg down a hole, saying "Please, nothing grab my leg. Please, nothing grab my leg".
I was intrigued, but still flicked some more. I came back just in time to see the same handsome man (Dean) talking to a darker-haired handsome man (Sam) about how, when he was in Hell, he liked causing others pain, because it made some of his go away.
Hook. Line. And Sinker, I was caught. I was fascinated that there was a show, which would send a main character to Hell, and then have him engage in, and ENJOY!! some fairly unsavoury activities. And, I liked the honesty of the writing. Let's face it. The human psyche does resort to inflicting pain as a way to try and erase pain. That's how we get bullies, and frosh week for freshmen at university!
Obviously, my first episode of Supernatural was "Family Remains". Therefore, it's kind of poetic that this little ditty is about the fact that Supernatural simultaneously appeals to our parenting sensibilities and instincts, and to all those hormones and emotions that made us parents in the first place! So, here goes"¦
1. Go Out There and Make Your Momma Proud!
As parents, we're raising the adults of the future. We try to instill our values, and we hope they grow up to be kind, thoughtful, considerate people who will make a positive contribution to the world (maybe even save it!!) We also hope our children don't share our shortcomings. So, we teach them about generosity and tolerance, and how to be slower to anger, and quicker to help. Our children in return (and I think we're hard-wired to do this), strive to make us proud. How do they do this? They go out there and try to be better people.
I see this all the time on Supernatural, right from the first season when Dean says "My Mom "“ I know she wanted me to be brave. I think about that every day. And I do my best to be brave". It's echoed again in the attempts by both brothers to learn, and grow from their mistakes, and the mistakes of their father. The sentiment is there in Sam's heartfelt apology to his dad in "The Song Remains The Same". And it's even there in Season 6, with Dean talking about how he wants to give Ben a different life from what he had.
2. Stop Fighting and Go Play Nicely With Your Brother
Ah yes, sibling rivalry. What would our show be without it? All the bickering, the punching, the teasing and the hugging (albeit those are fairly rare). It's so real! That's probably why we appreciate it, and buy into it. I see elements of Sam and Dean's relationship everyday with my daughters. They can fight viciously (and anyone who believes girls aren't physical fighters is welcome to drop by my house!) but they are also each other's best friend. When one is hurt or upset, she always seeks comfort from the other.
As a mom, I would never want my girls to have the relationship as described by Zachariah, "You know Sam and Dean Winchester are psychotically, irrationally, erotically codependent on each other, right?" But, there is something admirable, and worthy about the strength of their relationship. After all, it was the power of love that pulled Sam and Dean through the Apocalypse, and it's likely to be what gets them through the ramifications of their latest soul-searching adventure.
I really hope that when my girls grow up they retain the loving, close, supportive bond they have now. Siblings know us, and our faults and strengths intimately, and that's what makes them so valuable to have around during times of joy, and sorrow. I realize, in the future, my daughters are likely to face some difficult times (hopefully not Armageddon!). Knowing they have a sister to lean on will surely help them through those rough patches. So, I do what I can to nurture my daughters' relationship, and remind them of the importance of it.
3. Wash Your Hands so We Can Have Dinner and Discuss World Events
Have you ever noticed just how often Sam and Dean discuss a case over a meal? As moms, we're constantly reminded of the value, and importance of the family dinner. We're told it's where kids learn about nutrition, and that it builds relationships. In my house, it's where we share some of the stories of our day, and talk about what's happening in the world.
Granted Dean, or at least Season 1 to 5 Dean, and Season 6 Sam, could do with a few more vegetables, but give them credit. They actually share a meal quite often! At the table (and over the top of the Impala) is where they debate, and challenge and listen. That's all stuff we're supposed to be doing over our own meat & potatoes, and rice & beans. Sam and Dean are family dinner role models!
(As an aside, I appreciate how the show itself makes me think about world events, everything from torture.. to death.. to the price of love.. to the eternal questions of "do the ends justify the means", and "do you place the good of one ahead of the good of many?". Pretty heavy philosophical issues, but they're important to ponder.)
4. It'll Take Hard Work and Sacrifice
Yup. That about sums up parenting. I've heard it said "Parenting "“ it's not just a word, it's a sentence." Some days it feels that way. On balance though, the hard work is totally worth it for the joys of a hug and a kiss, a smile and a giggle and a million shared moments and memories.
I raise this topic because of the sacrifice theme running through the show. I totally get it. As a mother, the sacrifice starts the instant you get pregnant. You willingly hand over your body to a parasite for 9 months! (I'm being Scully here, scientific and analytical). However, once you meet that beautiful being, there is nothing you wouldn't do for him, or her.
When my youngest daughter was just 10 days old, she went from being a robustly healthy newborn to a seriously ill baby in a matter of hours. She developed a fever of 104, could no longer nurse and was rapidly dehydrating. Everytime the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurses tried to start an IV, her veins would collapse. They tried both arms, her head and one foot. We were down to the last limb, and the nurse suggested we pray to the IV gods for assistance. Luckily, they were listening and granted some help.
But the fun was far from over. Her fever just would not break. When the nursing shift changed, the looks of pity became more intense, because my daughter was not improving. The doctor suggested a lumbar puncture to see if that might tell them something. Thankfully, I was not allowed to watch that procedure. We were told the antibiotics she was being given were so powerful there was a possibility she would become deaf. Night became day became night and over again. And, still they didn't know what was making her so sick, or how exactly to make her better. (It reads a bit like a show plot doesn't it?)
Because of her mystery illness, and the fact I was breastfeeding, we were both in the isolation room. It wasn't standard practice, but I eventually convinced one of the nurses to help get my daughter and all her IV and lines out of the crib, and into bed with me. Up to that point, I'd been allowed to hold her and nurse her, but in bed together I could really cuddle her. I could wrap my body around her. Somehow it made me feel like I could transfer my strength to her, and shield her. Not too long before that, I'd taken a quick walk up and down the ward. I saw a dad, also on a bed, and also holding his son in exactly the same way. The boy looked to be about 6 or 8 years old and was starting chemotherapy. Strange how instinctive it is to use our bodies to protect our children.
The cuddle seemed to help my girl because after what felt like forever, but was really only about 3 days, her fever broke, and she started to recover. The doctors never figured out what made her so ill. The best guess was a virus, and since newborns have no immune systems, she was hit hard.
I share the story only to say that, in the terrible early morning silence of a hospital, when all is dark but not quite still, if someone had been roaming the halls, and had popped into our room, offering to make her all better, it might have taken me a moment to remember to ask the price, and then to say No.
5. It's Okay Sammy, I Got You (And I'll Give You a Hug and Kiss and Make the BooBoo All Better)
One of the toughest lessons you learn as a parent is that your child can, and will get hurt, physically and emotionally. You just keep your fingers crossed that it's not too badly. You brush up on your first aid, and you learn to read your children so that you know when they're injured, when they just need some attention and when they really need to talk. What's neat is that it turns out kissing the injury really does seem to have magical healing powers! (I've found it works equally well for skinned knees, and bad days at school!)
Sam and Dean know how to tend to each other's physical injuries very well, and how to handle the other brother when he's in pain. I've even picked up some First Aid pointers from the show. For instance, now we all know that you should relocate the shoulder on One, not the previously agreed upon Three!
But, I must say, the Winchesters could certainly use some advice on how to deal with the emotional wounds. And that's really where all of us mothers (or just motherly-minded women) are so valuable. We could give them so many tactful lessons on caring-and-sharing, and the cathartic value of a chick flick moment, coupled with a good sobfest (which is more than the Single Manly Tear, although that is beautiful in it's own right) I mean really, who hasn't longed to reach out and give one of the boys a comforting hug, and a big kiss to make that BooBoo go bye-bye?
This is where the hormones kick in and things start to get a little Oedipal, so thank you Jasminka for having an Open Couch!
6. When the Bedroom Door is Closed, Mommy & Daddy Are Having A Private Conversation
I have a confession to make. I don't look like a Victoria's Secret model. Although since I got my teeth fixed when I was a teenager, small children no longer run screaming in the other direction! (Well, mine might but that's just because I'm their mother, and they're probably in trouble.)
I'm middle-aged. I have some grey hair, a few wrinkles near the eyes (I prefer to call them laugh lines) and some scars and marks on my body that tell the story of my life. But I try to stay fit, and people are often surprised when I tell them my age. I think that's more due to the age of my children, but I'll take compliments wherever I can find them!
Okay, I'll just blurt it out. In my mind I'm still in my late twenties, and prone to the occasional fantasy crush. But there's really nothing wrong with having a fantasy crush, right? It's healthy right? Staves off Alzheimers by stimulating the imagination, right?
For awhile my 20-something alter ego kind of liked it when my hockey-playing daughters waxed poetic about Sidney Crosby (youngest captain ever to win the Stanley Cup; golden goal scorer for Canada at the Olympics; and all around nice guy with lovely brown eyes and a remarkably full set of teeth for someone who plays hockey). Then I realized I was a year or two older than his father. That was just gross! My girls can have him! (please!! He'd fit into the family just fine. We'd all sit around and be polite together!)
Truth is I find most people on TV or in the movies too young, or too pretty-boy or too fake, which is my big problem with the entertainment scene these days. (I can't stand it when the "ugly girl" is really a beautiful actress who gained 10 pounds and put on glasses. Gimme a break! Go the British way, and have your actors look like real people"¦ Oops veering wildly off topic!)
Then, sigh/drool, enter the Winchesters, and the genetically-blessed men who portray them. (Because really, I do know the difference between fictional characters and real actors!) Mr. Ackles and Mr. Padalecki are very, very attractive, almost too handsome to be plausible as guys who've lived such hard lives, and been punched in the face so often! (See rant above.) But through their acting and the writing, even the clothes the costume designers put them in, they have created a Sam and a Dean who are completely believable and real. And because of all the horrendous experiences the brothers have faced in their lives, they also seem older and wiser, than their chronological years. In fact, some of their life issues are just like mine on a bad day - my job sucks, no one thanks me anyway, and my family either doesn't understand me, or takes me for granted. But they have such big shoulders for handling those big problems. And that's so comforting , because you can imagine melting into that embrace. Did I mention sigh/drool?
These days, the mere mention of Supernatural is enough to put a big, goofy grin on the face of my 20-something alter ego (It's remarkable how much she looks like me!). She puts little Supernatural pictures up over her desk at work, smiles and blushes when her husband teases "Bring me some pie!", and plays air guitar on her leg, while her daughters sing "Eye of the Tiger".
Ah, the gift of family. The ones we make through blood and friendship, and the ones we fantasize about. It's kind of like what Chuck says, "They chose family. And, well.. isn't that kinda the whole point?"