Lessons in the Dark by Teresa Palmer
I’m floored that it’s March already. Where has the year gone? We arrived in Australia on the plane from LA yesterday and I’m writing this here lying in the dark at 5am awake and jet lagged. The boys are in my bed. but luckily they’re both still asleep, thank God.
It was just Bodhi, Forest, my Mum and myself on the flight because hubs is back working on his tv pilot. He is playing the Russell Crowe character from the film LA Confidential in the TV series version. A MASSIVE get for him, I’m so excited and proud of him. Mark has that rare ability to always book every job he goes in for, or at least get down to the final round, it’s nuts. I don’t know how he does it. In this show he plays a 1950’s detective, a total savage and a violet tough ass, which I chuckle about, as in real life he is the most loving and gentle person. Even all his tattoos are of praying hands, angels, his kids names, trees and Buddhist imagery!
Beyond the spiritual tattoos and the conscious parenting, however, are all the things he has seen in his life. Perhaps this is what the producers of the show meant when they said it was in his eyes. Mark grew up in the most notoriously drug fueled, violent, and impoverished area in Philadelphia (locals refer to it as The Badlands) Seeing street gangs, crime, hearing gunshots and watching the hustle was Mark's norm. He has seen many friends die, end up in jail, and fall victim to the system that isn’t set up to support you if you’re born into an area like this.
Mark grew up on those same streets as a homeless boy, living in cars and abandoned buildings in the dead of winter. His father was a heroin addict and left Mark at age 5. Mark remembers sitting on a doorstep all day and all night waiting for his Dad to bring him the Transformer he promised him. He waited and waited. It would be 30 years until he saw his father again. With love, forgiveness, and his fathers sobriety they’ve started to rebuild their relationship. Mark has seen and experienced things that my brain struggles to compute.
I’m sharing this because I’ve been thinking about his upbringing and these experiences a lot lately. How did Mark pull through this kind of childhood trauma to become such an incredibly loving, forgiving, warm-hearted and generous soul? He is so deeply in tune with his boys and their feelings, and I know that he parents in this conscious manner because he wants a different experience for them than he had. His Mom, Cheri, was a single teenage mother, trying to keep her head afloat in this world without any support. She knew that what Mark was navigating was difficult for him, but she also knew that despite their circumstances, she would ensure that he always felt loved. She loved on him more than anything - she had him doing affirmations to himself in the mirror every day as a child. She knew that at least if he could love himself, he would be able to face any challenge. She gave him the tools to believe that he could achieve anything, and he has.
Mark found his way out of that neighborhood, started focusing on his passion to act, and he managed to find an agent at such a young age - and that agent took a chance on this young hood boy. He was self-taught and was determined to reach his goals, he didn’t understand why people looked at kids like him as a write-off. He would go into those audition rooms as a teenager and win over those people and book those jobs not just because he was talented but because he HAD to, it was survival. He used those years of building the confidence he had in himself, and he soared.
Bodhi is reaching the same age Mark was when his father left him, and perhaps this is why these stories have been circulating for me or perhaps it’s because I’ve been catching myself in moments of fear surrounding the world in which my children are living in. My boys are having such a different life than what Mark had, yet as their mother, I still worry about them. I find myself taking comfort in Mark's story. Seeing with all that was thrown at him, he used it as an opportunity to be better, do better, dig deeper. It tells me that the imperfections we have as parents shouldn’t be looked upon with guilt and shame, that we can always strive to be better and learn from our children’s willingness to keep going. It teaches me that no matter how hard we try to protect them from suffering and pain, our kids are going to experience heartbreak, they will experience fear, disappointment, regret, anxiety, hardships. But if we, as their parents, instill in them that they need not be broken by these things, but use them as a catalyst to blossom, strengthen and grow, then they can face the waves that come their way with bravery and openness.
As the tattoo over Marks heart says; “I love you keep going”. 🙏💜