Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and it only seems appropriate to finally give Rebecca Pearson the recognition she deserves. This Is Us‘ Jack Pearson typically receives most of the praise on the NBC drama, and understandably so. He’s one of the best TV dads around, and the love he had for his children knew no bounds. But we’re here to shine a light on Rebecca.
Parenting is hard (or so I’ve been told), so of course Rebecca was going to make mistakes along the way. But even though Rebecca faced two serious, unexpected tragedies that affected her deeply, she found a way to stay strong for her kids and ensure they had a good upbringing.
What makes Rebecca such a great mom is how she didn’t let those tough times or the grief that followed consume her to the point that she forgot about everyone else in her life, least of all Kate, Kevin and Randall.
I grew up with grieving parents. When I was 13, my 16-year-old brother died in a car accident, similar to the unexpected loss the Pearsons faced. Right after burying their child, my parents had a choice: They could either fully succumb to their grief and forget about me and my sister, or they could do their absolute best to remain parents by ensuring that my sister and I weren’t forgotten. They chose the latter. They made sure to take care of each other and took time for themselves to grieve, but somehow, they always found a way to put their children first.
That’s exactly what Rebecca did both times her heart was ripped out and stomped on — she didn’t just lose Jack; she also lost a child, which is one of the most difficult things a parent can face. I saw it in my parents’ experience. The pain Rebecca felt after losing her baby is unimaginable, but she found a way to cope with it in order to do right by the Big Three.
“You know, Mom, you were really strong for us when it happened,” Kevin told Rebecca during the Season 2 “Super Bowl Sunday” episode. “I can’t even imagine what that must’ve been like for you.”
As children, Kate, Kevin and Randall couldn’t really relate to Rebecca losing both a child and a husband. They only knew their loss and what they saw their mother facing. Even though my parents and I both lost someone special to us at the same time, I lost a brother, not a child. The experience is different.
The Pearson kids couldn’t fully grasp what their mother was dealing with. In the past and even in the present, it’s probably easier for them to point out Rebecca’s flaws and the mistakes she made as a parent that shaped who they became. However, when Rebecca became a single parent, she had to learn how to be a mother all over again. That isn’t easy. Not only did she have three kids to take care of, but she also had to take care of herself.
Now, as adults, husbands, wives and parents, the Pearson kids can see Rebecca in a different light. They can relate to her on an entirely new level and realize that she was actually a pretty great mom who survived a horrific ordeal. She did her best.
“I did what I could, you know,” Rebecca told Kevin during the “Super Bowl Sunday” episode. “I tried to wrap myself around you guys and protect you, but you were all so big already. I tried. Your dad never had to try.”
After Jack’s death, Rebecca had the same choice to make: She could either succumb to her grief, or she could put her kids first and also take care of herself in the process. She chose the latter — again.
Rebecca definitely had her doubts at Jack’s funeral, but Dr. K gave her the pep talk she absolutely needed. “I can’t do this without him,” she told the doctor who delivered her babies. “I just can’t. He knew how to do all of this. He was fearless. I’m not fearless. I’m not.”
But Dr. K didn’t buy that and told her, “You are the same woman who lost a child and rolled out of my hospital with three babies just the same. You’re as tough as they come, Rebecca Pearson.”
Rebecca couldn’t convince herself to take the sourest lemon life gave her and make something resembling lemonade, but Dr. K told her it was possible. “You didn’t just make something resembling lemonade, dear,” he told her at Jack’s funeral. “You made one of the sweetest damn pitchers of lemonade I ever saw. So, don’t you try to sell me on what you can’t do, because I’m too old, I’m too smart and I’m not buying it.”
Rebecca took what Dr. K told her to heart. When spreading part of Jack’s ashes at his favorite tree, Rebecca made a powerful speech to each of her kids. First, she spoke to Kevin and Randall: “You know, neither of you has to be the man of the house now, all right? You’re two 17-year-olds, OK? Your only job, from now on, your only job is to go on dates and hang out with your friends and your sister. I wouldn’t protest if you wanted to do a load of laundry every now and then, but that’s it, OK?”
“And, Kate, sweetheart, I know no matter what I say, no matter what anybody else says, you’re gonna blame yourself for your father going back in the house to get Louie,” Rebecca said. “Listen to me, because it was not your fault. Do you hear me? He was a grown man, Kate, who made a choice. And if I have to spend the rest of my life making sure that you know that I will. OK?”
This was a defining moment for Rebecca. She could’ve easily made the choice to continue believing she couldn’t parent on her own or that she was weak in comparison to Jack, but she didn’t. She made the choice to be a mom and to make sure she would do her absolute best in helping her children grieve, growing up and making futures for themselves.
And look at the Big Three now. They have pretty great lives. Yes, they all have their issues, but who doesn’t? It’s not fair to blame Rebecca completely for what her children are dealing with. With unexpected loss comes heartache, and a lot of people don’t know how to cope with that. Grief is hard. There isn’t a cure-all for it. As hard as Rebecca tried to help her kids through their dad’s death, she could only do so much. Like she said, she did what she could.
Where the Big Three are at today speaks volumes — and it’s thanks to Rebecca. Jack had a lot do with it, too, but Rebecca was the one who was there during the hardest time of her kids’ lives. The way she chose to handle it proves just how amazing of a mother she is.