This week on Big Little Lies, some questions are answered, while fresh ones accumulate. Jane continues to struggle with feeling like an outsider in her new town, after her son Ziggy is again singled out as a suspect of violent behavior towards a fellow student. She also comes one step closer to finding out the identity of her son’s father, with a little help from amateur detective Madeline. The question now is, will she run towards a possible confrontation with the truth, or will she pack up and move her son away from this town that’s been hostile towards them from the start?
Elsewhere, Madeline and Celeste both finally admit to themselves and each other something that seems to be a common theme in the show - the feeling that motherhood alone, without other work or passions, isn’t enough to fulfill their lives, and also the inevitable guilt that comes from feeling that way.
Celeste rediscovers her love for practicing law in this episode, something she hasn’t done since becoming a mother but is also exceptionally good at. As Madeline says, Celeste completely lights up during their meeting with the mayor and his lawyers. She becomes a happier, more confident version of herself than we’ve seen thus far. She realizes that she felt more alive during that short meeting than she has in six years of “wiping noses.”
In earlier episodes, Renata makes it clear that she feels ostracized by her fellow mothers for having a career outside her family. Even Madeline, who in the first episode says she likes not working so she can lord it over the career moms, now admits that her participation in and passion for the play is mostly a means of escape. A way to do something else, be something more than a mom.
I think this is a common theme in the show, because it is also a common theme for mothers in real life.
The feeling of wanting, or even needing, to occupy more roles than that of mother is something I can’t be the only mom who experiences. There have been many times in the last five years when I have been so thankful for the other titles I held, ones that weren’t some variation of the word mommy.
Titles like performer, writer, employee and teammate. Even the more tedious titles like waitress or student were still an essential means of escape, a way to break up my own hours of wiping noses. A way that made me feel good about myself, outside of my role as a mom. Yet while those other titles were a much-needed escape, there was also the guilt that accompanied the freedom. The gut-wrenching inner battle wondering how messed up my kid will be for having spent more time at daycare that day than she did with me.
I think that guilt is normal, healthy even, for it proves how much my daughter means to me. Even when I spend days juggling other titles along with that of mommy, she is never far from my heart or thoughts. And by wanting more for myself, I feel like I’m showing my daughter that she never has to limit herself to being any one thing, any one type of person. She will grow up knowing that to be a good mother doesn’t require the abolishment of her own individual passions.
Some of the characters on Big Little Lies have already learned that truth, and in this episode a couple more have fully realized it. I am excited to see where they will go with their newfound desires for more than motherhood.