I recently had the opportunity to see Secretariat*, Disney’s newest inspiring true story movie along the lines of Miracle and The Rookie. Now, I’m no movie reviewer, so if you want a real review of the movie, I would trust this guy.
I did, however, like the movie. And not just because seeing such beautiful creatures as race horses on the big screen is a sight to be seen, or because the movie managed to make suspenseful a story line whose outcome you already knew, but because it was a story of a dream realized. A dream realized for many involved with this magnificent animal, but mostly, a dream realized for Penny Chenery.
Penny Chenery. A mom. In the early 70s. Who recognized an opportunity and fought for it. A woman who seemed to live simultaneously in Denver and Virginia to keep the family farm alive for the promise of this one horse. A woman in a man’s world who simply went about her business, and kicked a little tail in the process.
As I embark on this journey to write a novel in a month, a scene from the movie keeps coming back to me (I suppose this is a spoiler, but probably not a surprise based on the fact that it’s common knowledge Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973 and this is billed as a feel-good, family movie): Just before the Belmont, the final race of the three, Penny (played by Diane Lane) is joined at the pre-race ball by her children and husband. Within the excitement of the moment, you see how very proud her children are of her, of what she has accomplished, of what is to come. Despite the fact that the journey was a hardship on her family, that it took her away for days and weeks at a time, that it strained her marriage, it was recognized in the eyes of her children. Recognized, honored and celebrated.
I watched my own mother go back to school when my younger sister started kindergarten and saw her struggle to fulfill her many roles as wife, mother, student. I saw her start a new career and will always be proud of all that she has accomplished, especially because I never considered her a working mom, she was just mom. I watched my father put up his own shingle, straining our family resources and dynamic as the once traveling businessman was soon working from home, expected to shuttle my sister and I to orthodontist appointments and practices. Despite our teenage angst, he managed to carve out a successful business and I am enormously proud of all that he has accomplished.
Attempting to write a novel in a month is less about writing the great American novel in 30 days and more about the journey, of showing my kids that with great risk comes great reward. They may be too young to remember it, sure, but I will always have the experience to share with them. And, hopefully, the road will fork into new words that need to be written, opportunities and dreams.
Because one day, what I want is for my kids to be proud of their mom in the same way I am proud of my parents. I want them to feel a part of the woman I am and am becoming. I want them to see that reinvention, challenge, hardship and risk are what create their character and are to be invited, learned from and cherished.
We will never own a Triple Crown winner, but it doesn’t mean our ending will be any less happy. As long as we remember to always run our own race.
*In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive free passes for me and a guest to an advanced screening of Secretariat thanks to Disney and BlogHer.