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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Guldner

Tully: The Third Child broke her mother's back.

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

Tully(2018) written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman takes an in-depth look at the reality of raising children in a patriarchal capitalist society. America: the land of the free home of the brave and also rated by many online polls as one of the worst places in the world to raise children if you are not rich and have help from others. Our cultural mentality is we can do it ourselves! Marlo played by Charlize Theron visits her brother Craig in his uber pretentious house and man cave Tiki Den. The contrasting socioeconomic dynamics between families can be seen in Craig's wife's demeanor. She has a full-time nanny and money. She has time to sleep in! Craig wants to help Marlo and offers her a night nanny. Marlo refuses. Why would she allow someone she does not know to come and help her. She can manage just fine on her own.

The truth is she is falling apart at the seams. She has a recurring dream of being trapped underwater. The pressure of having  Jonah her son who may be on the autism spectrum, along with her daughter, husband, job, household duties, and now this: an unplanned pregnancy at 40. It's just too much for one human being to handle. Most working mothers in America have what is known as the second shift. That's work you do, but never get paid for or like most working mother's much help with by your partners.  This does not seem to apply to Marlo's husband Drew played by Ron Livingston. Drew's work includes travel, so he is away from the household, and when he gets home he likes to unwind with video games.

Where is my downtime? The second shift of motherhood never ends!

But where is Marlo's downtime? When does she get to go get a massage? Mani-pedi? Any help at all? Marlo gets help in her imagination. We soon find Tully enter like a stealth ninja Mary Poppins making everything so much better for Marlo. Now Marlo can actually sleep! Wow! imagine that! What Tully illustrates is the contrasting difference between working-class mothers and wealthy mothers. When you have money you can buy help, which in turn helps with your sanity and mental health. Craig's wife is perky and ready to seize the day!

Life comes to a screeching halt for Marlo when she literally crashes her car and ends up in the hospital. After the doctor has to tell her husband Drew that Marlo has been under stress due to extreme sleep deprivation which causes major depression for Marlo, Drew finally wakes up to the idea that maybe she may need some help with the kids! Genius. Yes, Tully does show the unbearable sacrifices a mother does give and how a mother's work is never really done because one person cannot do it all by herself without most people cracking up. Mother's need help. It takes a village and it takes self-care

Cracking under pressure! Where did the good times go?

.Tully does a great job of showing that motherhood could be all that and more if we take a realistic approach.  For all you hard working Mom's out there it is OK to take a day off and ask for help. It is not fair to put unrealistic expectations on ourselves and there does need to be more balance to parental structures. Within the magic realism of Marlo's hallucination of a whimsical nanny named Tully is the realistic idea that being a mother also means you are human and you deserve help. I know what do I know about any of this? I don't know much but what I do know is this film helps at least start a conversation about the pressures of being a mom and at least that is a start to some kind of change.

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