The last time I was at my best mom-friend’s house with the kids for a play date, I told her there was a new movie about motherhood coming out in a month or so and that we should totally try to go together. You know, if we could ever get away from all of our dependents for a couple of hours at the same time.
“If it’s Tully my mom group is already planning an outing,” she said, balancing her six-month old on her hip while I nursed my newborn and our toddlers pulled out all the toys. “They’re all over that one.”
I promptly messaged my own mom group when I got home and asked if anyone was in, even though the premiere was weeks away at the time. Hey, when you’re a busy mom you have to plan these things well in advance.
“OMG I just googled this. This is my life. I’m in,” came an immediate reply.
This is my life. That’s the mantra moms everywhere have been repeating ever since the previews for Tully, starring Charlize Theron, came out. And for good reason too: based on the short clips I’ve seen so far, this is probably the most accurate portrayal of motherhood to ever be shown on the big screen. (I’d expect nothing less from writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, the team who also brought us Juno.)
The premise is simple. A mother of three (with a newborn) is gifted a night nurse by her brother (Mark Duplass) when she starts to break down. While she fights the idea at first (what mother wants to feel inadequate by accepting that kind of help?) she eventually comes to appreciate what the nurse, Tully, brings to the table.
“This is a woman who tries her best to keep up with the demands of being an attentive mother, a loving wife, and maintaining at least some self-identity through it all,” Theron told People ahead of the May 4 release. “But at the end of the day, she’s human, and she drops the ball a little. Or a lot.”
Let’s break it all down, shall we?
The physical toll motherhood takes on you
Theron gained about 50 pounds to play this particular mother, and she hasn’t been shy in the press about the emotional effects such a weight gain has had on her. Sure, she did it for Monster back in her twenties, but now she’s 43 and the weight doesn’t come off as easily as it used to. That’s a struggle many mothers have to face—not only do we gain weight during pregnancy that can take forever to come off (if it ever does), but we also face the reality of a new belly paunch, stretch marks and the idea that our old bikinis may have to be permanently retired.
How isolating motherhood can be
It sounds like a dream gig, to be home basking in a new baby’s presence during a maternity leave. But the reality is that it can be one of the most isolating and lonely experiences of a person’s life. That point is driven home in one of the previews as the same routine plays over and over again in a monotonous and silent montage, with Theron’s exhausted face often portraying the same resigned expression.
They milk the real moments
I swear the expression “there’s no use crying over spilled milk” came from the partner of a breastfeeding mother with good intentions, but zero idea what it feels like to actually spill a container of freshly pumped frothy stuff. Sometimes it’s such an emotionally draining and long process to squeeze even just two ounces of milk from your sore nipples that if you do happen to spill it, it feels like the end of the world. The fact that this feeling is showcased in all its glory in the previews is yet another reason we all need to see this movie, immediately.
The mom guilt
Every new mom feels like they’re the worst mother ever at some point or another. Babies don’t come with a manual and we all mess up. If I could describe modern day motherhood, it is essentially trying your best to do right by your babies and being judged for every decision you make along the way. In Tully, the mother accidentally drops her cell phone on her sleeping infant (waking baby up), and she does whatever she can—including letting her baby sleep in its car seat (gasp!) on top of the dyer to soothe its colic. Hey man, we’ve all been there.
Sometimes you just can’t
Why are moms expected to do it all? The reality is that they can’t, and at some point something has to give. In the trailer for Tully, that something happens to be dinner one night when the mom serves up a frozen pizza. Naturally her husband takes a jab at her for doing so, which made me rage a little bit (OK, a lot) for her on the inside. I don’t see him whipping up a hot meal.
The little moments
On top of everything else we can glean from the trailer, this woman also has a messy house, leaking boobs, and doesn’t look like she knows where her next surge of energy is going to come from. Obviously a cup of coffee won’t be enough. #Relatable, I say.
Mothers need to be taken care of too
One of the most realistic things in the trailer has got to be the sheer exhaustion this mother feels at trying to care for all of her little ones. At one point she’s sitting at the breakfast table in a bra, while her kid asks what’s wrong with her body. During another moment she’s passed out on the couch with a baby monitor on her lap while her two older children are playing with the curtains behind her. We live in a society in which new moms get very little support or care, and this movie—at least according to the previews—perfectly encapsulates that when Tully comes to the rescue.
So Tully, May 4. Who’s in?