I saw the movie, The Help, yesterday. The Help is a 2009 novel by author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960’s. It is told from the perspective of the maids and is a beautiful film.
I was overcome with emotion when I watched this movie. I remembered this part of our American heritage and I immediately started to cry. I hated to see how our African American sisters were treated. It was awful and shameful.
Yet, there was another reason that I cried. It touched my stepmom heart. The relationship between the maids and the children in the household were so loving and touching. It reminded me of many of our stepmom/stepchildren relationships.
The maids and the children had deep love and respect for one another. They also spent a lot of time together and shared each other’s lives with one another. One of the maids had her ‘child’ memorize the mantra:
You are kind.
You are smart.
You are important.
Simple. Poignant. Words to live by. The maids were parenting the children in such wise and adoring ways.
It reminded me of my relationship with my stepchildren. Don’t misunderstand, I was not as wise as the women in the movie, but there were elements that rang true with me.
I spent a lot of time with my stepchildren, by virtue of the fact that we were in the same household. I felt like a ‘quasi parent’ and tried to teach whatever life lessons I knew at the time. Yet, like the maids, it was a clandestine relationship. I never talked about it much and tried to help them quietly and discreetly. I quietly worried about them because I was unsure how their parents’ divorce was affecting them.
Funny. The message that I wanted them to know was that:
They are kind.
They are smart.
They are important.
I wish that I conveyed this message as poignantly as the African American women who were represented in this movie.