You’ll never know the full story behind a photo posted to social media unless you hear from the people in it. On Monday, Hugh Jackman posted a photo of himself with his arm around his mom and the two of them smiling at each other. He captioned it simply, “Mum.” Judging by the photo alone, Jackman and his mother, Grace McNeil, have solid relationship. And while that’s true now, it hasn’t always been the case. It was a long road to get to the point shown in the picture, and that’s something Jackman has opened up about in the past. Read on to find out more about the actor’s sometimes-rocky relationship with his mother, leading all the way to this sweet Instagram post.
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Jackman’s mother left when he was eight.
In a 2012 interview with Australian Women’s Weekly (via Today), Jackman shared that his family split apart when he was eight years old. He stayed in Sydney, Australia with his father and two brothers, while his mother moved to England with his two sisters. He said that he found out via a telegram the day after they left, but that it didn’t really sink in that his mom wouldn’t be returning until he was 12 or 13.
“One of the main things I remember is that horrible feeling that people were talking about you and looking at you because it was odd for the mother to leave,” he said.
According to The Independent, Jackman told Who magazine in 2018 that he saw his mother about once a year after she left Australia.
He remembers her leaving vividly.
In a 2012 interview with 60 Minutes (via Us Weekly), Jackman said that he still recalls clear details about the day his mom left. “I can remember the morning she left, it’s weird the things you pick up,” he said. “I remember her being in a towel around her head and saying goodbye, must have been the way she said goodbye. As I went off to school, when I came back, there was no one there in the house.” He added, “I don’t think she thought for a second it would be forever. I think she thought it was, ‘I just need to get away, and I’ll come back.’ Dad used to pray every night that Mom would come back.”
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He grew to understand her choice better.
Jackman later found out that his mother was suffering from postpartum depression around the time that she left. “The thing I never felt, and I know this might sound strange, I never felt that my mum didn’t love me,” Jackman told Australian Women’s Weekly. “I’ve spoken about it at length with her since and I know she was struggling. She was in hospital after I was born suffering from post-natal depression. There wasn’t a support network for her here.”
Jackman also told The Sun in 2011 that he had reconciled with McNeil. “As I grew older I gained an understanding of why Mum did leave,” he said. “I am 43 now and we have definitely made our peace, which is important.”
Having his own children also affected his relationship with his mother.
Jackman has two children, 21-year-old Oscar and 16-year-old Ava, with his wife of 25 years, Deborra-Lee Furness. I think having kids of your own just adds another level of empathy and understanding,” he told Australian Women’s Weekly. “And there comes a certain point in life when you have to stop blaming other people for how you feel or the misfortunes in your life.”
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