When one of the first lines in an e-mail sent to me by Netflix asking me to screen their new original movie said “Starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney”, my instant response was “I’m in!” Of course, I couldn’t help thinking about the last movie they appear in together, but Tallulah is anything but a continuation of Juno.
Tallulah, written and directed by Sian Heder (writer for Orange is the New Black) was inspired by Sian’s time in LA working as a nanny for the very wealthy. A dramatic comedy that tells a story very similar to an experience of her own. The movie follows Tallulah (Ellen Page) a grifter-type, who claims to be content living in her van, even if that means she has to do so alone, but after her boyfriend ditches her, she goes looking for him. She finds herself outside the hotel room door of a wealthy woman alone with a baby. The woman, Carolyn (Tammy Blanchard, amazing) mistakes Tallulah for hotel staff and pulls her inside. There, Tallulah is quick to realize all is not right. Carolyn is fall-down drunk, and for lack of a better word, a trainwreck. In a very weak moment, Carolyn divulges that she’s never been alone with her child before, her marriage and life are a wreck, and doesn’t really want to be a mother.
Tallulah, for the right or wrong reasons, steals the baby, and the first place she goes is to Margo (Allison Janney), the mother of Tallulah’s missing boyfriend who is living alone after being left by her son and husband. Margo takes in Tallulah and the baby, believing the baby is her son’s.
For me, Tallulah isn’t just the story of a messed up woman who stole a baby- it’s the story of three women finding themselves. In life, and as mothers.
Now, I’m not a movie reviewer by nature. I wasn’t sure, why, of all the Stream Team members, they chose me (along with 4 other mom bloggers) to watch the movie before its release… until I watched it. I stopped describing the movie less than half-way in, because I don’t want to spoil too much of it. I think it warrants viewing yourself without knowing every single detail, but I do have a lot to say, a lot of thoughts. My questions, though, were answered, in an awesome informal video-chat with Sian.
My personal story is no secret. I have detailed in many blogs, and even in many chapters of my first book. I was bullied by a group of moms. By other people who just got a snapshot of my life and viewed me to be “bad” and “incompetent” when my youngest child was very ill. But they didn’t know me, or really anything about me. They just snapped to judgment.
While Sian wrote the movie before having her own children (she has two now), she admits that over time working on the script and getting everything into place to make it happen, while her life happened around the process, her view of Carolyn changed. She went from seeing Carolyn as most people might while watching the movie- a villain, a bad mom– to seeing her as human. I wondered if other people might feel that way watching the movie, or if they’d instantly jump to judgment.
Sian’s response- “I wanted to take the audience on my own journey, which was starting off from a place of judgment and having those feelings of empathy creep up on them. At the end, I don’t think Carolyn is going to be a great mom. There is no way at the end of the movie she’s going to transform her life, but that she’s going to try and that’s all of us can ever really do. Try to be the best we can be and try to pay attention to our kids be there as much as we can.”
When we snap to judgment, we fail to see the whole picture.
We could so easily paint the women in this movie as one-dimensional.
Tallulah is a screw-up.
Margo is judgmental and overbearing.
Carolyn is an unfit mother.
They’re all so much more than that, though, and that’s what I loved so much about Tallulah. And while, even with everything I’ve been through, I instantly villainized Carolyn’s character, for having everything and not appreciating it. For just being what appeared to be a terrible mother, without knowing anything about her other than what I got in a glimpse. Though, the more I thought about it, something about her resonated with me, and with Sian.
We’re all perfect moms until we have kids. It’s funny how motherhood changes your perception. The part of us that now, after having kids, knows that we’re never going to be “perfect”. There’s a part of us that knows we’re messing shit up, when we feel like we’re falling apart, we can’t do it, we’re not meant for it. That’s the part of Carolyn we can all relate to. That’s something we maybe don’t like to admit to ourselves, and we judge in others- but we’ve all been there.
Although I’m not Carolyn, I’ve felt like her. I’ve been judged. I’ve made rash judgments like Tallulah. I’ve been overbearing like Margo.
I think judgment is a normal part of the human existence. It’s natural to look at someone else and compare and contrast. How are they different? How are we alike? And when it comes to shaming other moms, making them feel worse when they’re already in a low place, judging them-and Tallulah showed me that I still have a lot of work to do. We all do.
Sian Heder succeeded in making a film that didn’t just paint women as one-note characters. She allowed us to see the peeled-back layers of how it really is. It’s messy, and it’s complicated, and it’s real.
Tallulah will make you laugh, and it will make you feel, and it will make you relate on so many different levels as a mother, and as a human. And it will make you ask- what would you do? Would you steal this baby?
Don’t climb on that, don’t do that, don’t sit there, DON’T EAT THAT! I swear, it sometimes feels like we do nothing but tell our kids NOT to do things– most of which are for their own good. Some of which are for our sanity. A lot of which are for their health and safety.
I don’t want my kids raised in a world full of NO, but I also don’t want them to be assholes. The world has too many of those, and it’s so easy to avoid becoming one. It’s much harder to undo assholism once it’s deeply ingrained in your being. Sure, there’s your typical respect, and then there are things that just have to be learned over time- and these may seem to be what you might consider “common courtesy”- but it appears 90% of adults missed the damn memo and say these things that make you want to put a foot in their ass, so if I can prevent my kids from getting shoes stuck up their butts by teaching them these things early- I’m gonna do it.
1. Don’t tell someone to smile. Or tell them they need to “smile more”. Or tell them they’re “prettier/better looking when they smile.”
No one has to smile for anyone else. Not everyone smiles all the time. That shit gives you wrinkles.
2. Don’t deny someone’s struggle. Never try to illegitimize it by telling them “it could be worse.” That doesn’t help. Ever. Every struggle is legit- even if you don’t understand it, or can’t relate to it.
3. Don’t ask a woman if she’s pregnant. Seriously. Just don’t.
4. Don’t judge someone based on their height, or their weight, or how attractive you mind find their outsides. People are far uglier on the inside.
5. Don’t call people fat. Or tell them they need to eat a sandwich. Or comment on their size at all. IT’S RUDE!
6. You do not know everything. Don’t ever act like you do. The internet does not give you PhD after hours of reading bullshit articles.
7. Don’t one-up. Let people have their moments. Life is NOT a competition.
I’m not saying you’re an asshole if you do any of these things, but…. wait. Yes I am. Stop it.
I wanted to name this blog “How having kids destroyed my ability to carry a conversation and made me completely socially awkward to the point where I don’t really have any female friends”- but “Never a Bridesmaid” was catchier.
(Note: I’m not mad. I don’t blame the kids, nor do I resent them. This is just how it goes.)
It’s not like I was ever one of the “popular” kids, but I never found myself sitting alone at lunch. I was kind of a bitch in highschool, but I found a really great group of girlfriends who had my back no matter what. These relationships extended years beyond graduation, even through moves, and failed relationships, and stupid, petty fights. I’ve always believed in quality over quantity, and my friends were definitely quality. Thick as thieves. Partners in crime.
And then I got pregnant.
One stopped talking to me immediately. The one who was actually my roommate at the time. One I considered one of my “best” friends, who I thought would have my back through it all. She didn’t. I’d say about 75% of my friends bailed. I wasn’t mad. Hurt, yes, mad- no. People change. I was the first in my group of friends to take on marriage and a child. Was it shitty? Yes. But I still had many friends sticking by me. My bridesmaids. My high school besties.
Over time, though, even those relationships changed. I found it nearly impossible to get out of the house, and they made new friends, and I found myself pretty alone. All these women I’d known for so long, moving on, meeting new people, getting married- and I’d been a bride, but I’ve never been close enough to any woman to be a bridesmaid.
I really meant this blog to be less depressing. I swear, we’re getting there!
I crawled into my mom hole. I didn’t click with other moms, and my friends didn’t really click with me- but I had my kids, and when my husband got home- at least I got adult interaction there, right??
Yeah, no. My daily conversations generally consisted of butt-wiping instructions and arguments over vegetables. And when the husband finally came strolling through the door, all refreshed from his day in the real world and wanted to regail me with tales of his work-day, it was just like….. no sir. I needed REAL conversation! Gossip! Girl talk! SOMETHING JUICE- FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, ANYTHING!
It’s gotten to the point that any time I find myself around other actual living, breathing humans that don’t live behind my computer screen, I’m so fucking awkward it’s painful.
Uhhh… yeah… so… what I do for fun is… write about poop and snort at shit I find on the internet….
What did I do over the weekend? I mean… yelled at my kids, picked a mystery spot of crusty something or other off of my shirt that I’m sure was a booger, and tried not to lose my mind? I mean….
I have nothing to say! I’m broken! But this occurrence is rare. Very rare, indeed. For I don’t really have any friends left that I hang out with on a regular basis, and I’d rather scoop out my eyeballs with a rusty spoon than go to a mom group or playdate, and trying to make mom friends is harder than winning the lottery. You never know who you’ll click with, if your kids will like each other, if they’re judgy. It’s completely overwhelming.
So, with all that being said, I have a suggestion to all moms out there– BE KIND! SAY HELLO! PLAN GIRLS NIGHTS! Help your awkward socially inept mom friends leave their homes, because it seems that we have no idea how to do it on our own or have become to weird to ask because we’re weird people with lacking conversational skills, but that doesn’t mean we just want to sit here like turds all the time!
I’m not saying you have to be besties with every mom you come across- I mean, let’s face it- most of us can’t stand other moms. Or their kids. And it’s not because we think we’re better than everyone else. Moms and kids are annoying. All of’em. I’m just saying, be friendly. You never know how long it’s been since she’s last conversed with humans that reside outside of her house.
When my first child was born, even though he was covered in my insides, I thought he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Natural for a first time, parent, I think. It’s not a case of rose-colored glasses. It’s the first time we’ve ever truly experienced REAL love at first sight. True, pure, beautiful, still totally disgusting, yet wonderful. THEN I was told that I had to lubricate his umbilical cord stump until it fell off. UNTIL HIS BLACK STINKY STUMP FELL OFF! WHAT IN THE FRESH HELL? For a hot ass second, I thought about returning him, but those big gray eyes calmed me.
THEN there were the tar poops, and I lived.
THEN there were multiple cases of explosive seedy diarrhea in colors I didn’t think poop could be, projectile vomit, being sprayed in the face with pee more times than I can count, chunky milky baby rolls, and I survived them all!
I thought to myself- if this is the worst parenthood has to offer, I can totally handle this! Nothing could be worse than those things!
We all have a weakness (or fifty) when it comes to raising kids. Mine came in the form of red, erupting gums.
My adorable, squishy, toothless baby had been replaced with a whiny hot sack of doofy-looking teeth and swollen gums. It was disgusting. It was disturbing. THIS had to be the worst part of parenthood.
I was wrong, y’all. So very, very wrong.
It started slowly. One of those doofy baby teeth began to wiggle, and with each wiggle, my stomach flopped over like a fish out of water. What was this? What was happening to me? How had I forgotten? Those doofy weird, rounded teeth that had just violently busted through my child’s gums only a few years before aren’t permanent.
I suddenly remembered being in Kindergarten and being surrounded by my peers when I lost my first tooth. No one warned me. No one told me that kind of thing would happen. Sure, I had an older brother, but he was just a giant douche I only paid attention to when he had a toy I wanted to play with. I never saw teeth falling out of his head.
It fell out onto the table in front of me and I LOST IT.
“MRS. SHERIDAN! I BROKE MY TOOTH! I’M DYING! MY LIFE IS OVER! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???”
(Yes, I was just as dramatic then, as I am sure I am recalling something that happened 28 years ago perfectly).
Wiggly teeth were not fun for me as a child- I’d cry and complain, and I never, not once, attempted to pull a tooth out. It horrified me too much–which meant that I literally had teeth hanging by a string dangling around in my mouth, and omfg, I think I’m going to barf.
I must have burned it from my memory. Like one of those REALLY embarrassing life moments you completely forget about until you’re JUST about to fall asleep, and then it pops back into your head and haunts you for the rest of your life. That is loose teeth to me. And now my kid had them. And he wasn’t grossed out. In fact, he was proud.
“LOOK AT HOW WIGGLY MY TOOTH IS, MOMMY!”- wait, lemme go empty the contents of my stomach into the toilet, and then I’ll think about it.
I only ever participated in Tooth Fairy duty one time- just to know what it felt like, for one of those moments I could look back on and be like “Yeah, there was that time I had to ninja roll out of your room because you were such a light sleeper that I nearly broke my neck after you woke up with my hand under your pillow.”
It was after I exited Holden’s room successfully that another memory came flooding back. The day I found ALL of my baby teeth in one of my mom’s jewelry boxes. I mean… maybe it was supposed to be sweet, but looking down at Holden’s creepy tiny disembodied tooth, my stomach tried to exit via my lungs. EW. I CAN’T!
But, I did it. I faced my fears (for the most part). I made it through the wiggly teeth, the weird gap-toothed smiles, the comically oversized adult teeth filling up my kid’s mouth… and then Parker.
WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE PARKER??
It’s those adorable smooshy cheeks. They put you into a trance and it makes you forget how absolutely disgusting the kid is. I mean that in the best way, of course, but living with his machine gun farts and sticky hands can be quite the chore. His tooth experience was different. Although he got them early, like big brother, they didn’t fall out early. Year 4 passed, all tiny teeth still solidly in his gums. Year 5 passed, not a single, disgusting, wiggly tooth. Year 6. I was beginning to think he’d grow up to be a giant man with tiny teeth and he’d have to join the sideshow.
That’s when I saw it. Sitting at a picnic table inside Water Country (a local water park), I saw something that looked out of place in his mouth. I don’t know how I even saw it, but instantly, I gasped.
“OPEN YOUR MOUTH!”
I must have been so panicky that it caused him to think something was very wrong. Little did we know.
“What?? What’s wrong???”
“OPEN YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW!”
There they were. Right behind his bottom row of teeth…ANOTHER FUCKING ROW OF TEETH. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? It was straight out of my parental nightmares, people.
A photo posted by Jenny Schoberl (@holdinholden) on
I can deal with the Exorcist-style vomiting. I can deal with diarrhea, machine gun farts, and catching my kids eat their nasty little boogers, but I CAN NOT HANDLE THIS!
From that moment on, every time the kid chewed, or smiled, or talked to me, I saw his creepy little shark teeth staring back at me. I started calling him Sharker. And when the teeth finally became wiggly WEEKS LATER (and he started calling his front baby teeth “unicorn teeth” because they were so loose they stuck STRAIGHT OUT), I cried. And not for what might be the total sum of our future orthodontic bill, but because I knew it meant more disgusting, bloody, gummy, wiggly,hanging on by a thread, “Mommy look at this!” teeth, and I swear, I’m gonna lock myself in a closet and eat hair instead.
Am I alone?? Am I just totally weird? Is anyone else completely squicked out by loose teeth? If not, what IS your weak-spot in parenthood?
Is it just me, or does there seem to be a “holiday” for just about everything these days? National Donut Day. National Smoothie Day. National Burrito Day, National Hug Day. National Feed Your Fish Day. I MEAN! IT’S OVERWHELMING! Am I supposed to be celebrating all of these?? It seems like it’s just encouraging me to bust out of my pants again, and to be honest, I’m too cheap to buy new pants.
The lovely folks at Ricola recently reminded me that coming up on July 30th is National Friendship day, and as over “days” as I am, I think I can get behind this one. I’ve had some friends really go out of their way for me recently– and when you’re out of school and aren’t forced to see people every day and you have people who, without asking, lend you a hand, they’re definitely worth recognizing.
My friend Jess- who, at a moment’s notice, came over to take last minute head shots for my book signing because I didn’t have one. Who I know would be there if I needed her. She definitely deserves a mention.
Then there’s my friend and previous neighbor Nicole, who not only watched my bunny when we went out of town at the very last second, but brought me over essential oils for my back when it went out without me having to ask, without asking for anything in return- most definitely deserves a mention (and don’t get weepy, Nicole! You’re awesome!)
Do you have friends like mine that deserve celebrating? Look, I’m not a crafty-type person. I’ve never been great at gift giving, or wrapping, or really anything in that whole area- so, with that in mind, I have some really simple ideas you can whip up in just a few minutes to give to an awesomely deserving friend.
If they aren’t feeling well, think about just tossing some stuff into a basket that might make them feel a little better (and YES, THAT IS AN EASTER BASKET- DON’T JUDGE!). Some soup, of course. Bananas — if you don’t believe in the healing property of bananas, you are wrong! Bananas can help settle stomachs, help with energy level, and, bonus, they’re healthy! Toss in some painkillers, maybe a little booze, some coffee (I don’t know why, it just always makes me feel soothed!) and never forget the Ricola herb drops! There’s nothing better than the magical Chrüterchraft blend of 10 swiss herbs in fantastical little throat drops when you’re under the weather.
You could grab a gift card, flowers, even take them a basket of coupons (who doesn’t love coupons??)
If you don’t have ANY of that, I’m sure you have a piece of paper lying around. Make them a card! The thing about good friends is that you don’t have to lavish them with expensive gifts – it’s the little things!
How will you be celebrating your friends this July 30th?
I’m sharing #Ricola in my life as part of a Ricola sponsored series for Socialstars™
Every now and then we all need a reminder that f'ing it up is totally okay. No one's perfect! It doesn't exist! holdinholden.com/2016/05/shit…
@DrDHMenke appreciate that! Glad you're enjoying the poo, haha!
@ayatlin well, I want to watch it, but I am not planning on blogging about it. They should have contacted me! Talk about perfect branding
There also needs to be a toy, because, let's be real- we never really grow up pic.twitter.com/ZLoa3653Lt
How to win at parenting 8yo: I think I dripped some BBQ sauce on my pants. Me: That's fine. I got them out of the hamper this morning anyway
Would You Steal This Baby? The Movie TALLULAH Might Make You Say “Yes” goo.gl/fb/6JWtEH