By now, we've all heard the news about the beloved Robin Williams. His cause of death is even sadder, but I hope that it opens up the door for more conversation about depression and the issues that those who have it endure. Shortly after hearing the news, my brain switched over to my first recollection of Williams. Mrs. Doubtfire is, without a doubt, my favorite role that he played — and I will never forget the first time I saw it as a kid and the deep impact it had on my life.
The movie could not have come out at better time for me. I was 9 years old and my parents were on the brink of a divorce. I remember sitting at their bedroom door with my younger sister, listening to the arguments. The topics seemed so far beyond my comprehension then, and maybe that was a good thing.
When Mrs. Doubtfire hit theaters, my dad took me to watch it, despite my mother's disapproval of my seeing it. I remember being excited because not only was I going on a daddy-daughter date, but I was also going to see my FIRST PG-13 movie. Oh yes, this was a big deal in my day.
When asked what my biggest fear in life was at 9 years old, I would have told you, "My parents getting divorced." Just thinking about it would send a stream of tears down my face. I was naive, and although I knew my parents' arguments weren't normal, I just thought that a divorce was never imminent. They wouldn't do that to us. I didn't want to end up like my friend who had to fly hours away just to see her dad. Was this my future? Indeed it was.
Mrs. Doubtfire brought light into a life that was dimmed by the d-word.
I remember the scene in the movie of the kids hugging their dad after he moved out of the house. And shortly after viewing this movie, I felt like my little life was spiraling out of control.
Divorce is so incredibly difficult for the parents, yes, but many ignore what it does to the children. It isn't just mommy and daddy living in separate houses. A divorce to a 9-year-old is life-altering. On the outside they look like they're coping well, but they may very well be struggling with their emotions. Every time I think of the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, I remember this time of my life. I remember visiting my dad's new (and small) apartment and feeling out of place, similar to how the kids in the movie felt. It wasn't home. It was where dad lived.
Mrs. Doubtfire brought light into a life that was dimmed by the d-word. My parent's divorce made me feel like I stood out. I was surrounded by children whose parents were married and I was under the impression that that was how families were, with two parents and the kids. The film showed me that, hey, you don't have to have the "traditional" family makeup to be loved by your parents.
Even now when I watch this movie, I cry because the kids who turn into adults never really "get over" their parents' divorce. Life moves on, yes, but the pain is still there. It may be covered up by laughs, good memories and memorable movies, but it's there.