Why do we save our worst behavior for the people we love the most? I thought about that after I saw the movie Lady Bird. It’s the story of a girl named Christine who prefers people call her Lady Bird. She is in her senior year of high school. Lady Bird and her mother love each other but they disagree about almost everything. In an early scene in the movie the mom and daughter fight because the mother won’t let her daughter cook breakfast for herself even though she is perfectly capable of doing so. There is a contentious scene where their tastes clash over the selection of Lady Bird’s prom dress. Near the end of the movie the mother is angry her daughter wants to go to New York to school so she can’t bring herself to wish her daughter well or even go into the airport to say good-bye as she heads off to college. The two women just can’t seem to get along.
But there are moments when their underlying love for one another shines through. When Lady Bird has a disappointing first sexual encounter her mother is there to comfort her and they spend a Sunday afternoon touring real estate Open Houses having a great time together imagining they might live in the homes they are viewing.
Save for a few of these sporadic episodes of affection the two woman are diffident and contrary with one another throughout the movie bringing out their worst character traits whenever they are interacting.
I am sure many audience members could identify as they considered some of their own relationships. Perhaps there is friction in their marriage relationship despite an underlying love. Perhaps there is tension in a sibling relationship despite a sense of belonging together. Perhaps there is conflict in a friendship despite an assumed loyalty.
The mother in the movie is a psychiatric nurse and is so gentle and understanding and non-judgmental with her patients. Most of the time however she just can’t exhibit that same gentleness and understanding and open-mindedness with her own daughter.