Motherhood and Emotional Intimacy in Tully 2018 | Film Review (Spoilers)

I’m not too big on watching movies these days, but Tully jumped out at me with its premise of realness, when a mother of three hires a night nanny to help with her newborn. Showcasing daily specifics of early motherhood, like the feeling of a newborn curling up in your hands, or trying to cut their tiny nails while keeping them from fidgeting. Any of these scenes below, really, caught my eye:

There are so many key memories we lose with time, which, incidentally, is my theory for why people keep adding more children to their growing family: the pain disappears and all that’s left is remembering how worth it was to get to where you are now. The good overshadows the not-so-pleasant moments, in most cases.

(Spoilers from here.)

I cherish dialogue-driven stories, so Tully’s introduction as the night nanny made for a turning point for me in the film. What ensues is the epitome of acceptance between two people.

“You two were so separate, but then so connected. How did you develop that? Because that magic just wasn’t in the script.” x

Marlo and Tully listen to each other with open hearts and warm eyes. They never dismiss what the other one wants to spill out (quite literally in one scene). It’s a tender acceptance that doesn’t rely on any outside factor. A scene that remain most stark in my mind is when Tully, instead of mocking or judging Marlo’s peculiar TV show preferences, takes this opportunity to learn her on a deeper level by asking sincere questions. Their deep discussions – nothing off limits – is all that Marlo and her husband should’ve been practicing to repair the gaping wound in their relationship.

That is until the reveal comes that, all along, Marlo was talking to her younger self… And something inside of me can’t easily let all that character-build go within the last 1/3 of the film.

For a movie that succeeds at openly diving into the vast hidden world of parenthood, it veered a sharp left at the end by delivering your typical Hollywood catch; a movie can never just be a movie without some shock deliverance. It’s even funnier that Tully has a scene making fun of this exact phenomena in movies, yet settles for a similar blow…

MARLO
Why have a baby if you’re not willing to put in the time? Sleep deprivation is part of the deal. Besides, I don’t want some stranger in my house bonding with my newborn at night. That’s like a Lifetime movie where the nanny tries to kill the mom and the mom wins but still walks with a cane for the rest of her life.

Again, the twist is a wonderful concept to explore, regarding self-care, but this is not what Tully build from the start. We were invested in the growing and accepting companionship between Marlo and Tully that entails staying up late talking about anything and everything into the night, like the “Ship of Theseus” paradox or daily anxieties, while caring for the newborn .

I had to mull over the plot twist multiple days (and vent to my mom) to come to the final conclusion that it didn’t work in my favor. The message it reverberates of “I was just here to bridge a gap” is a fascinating one to develop, but I feel like the execution of it failed in this film, when taking into consideration the major working point it has of featuring such an impacting and disarming bond between Marlo and Tully that’s so rare to experience these days… There’s just too much there to dismiss it with one scene.

This engulfs so much of them. Which springs to mind another quietly stirring scenario, right before the hit:

MARLO
I’m so tired.
TULLY
I know. But I need you to stay with me. Let’s have a conversation.
MARLO
All we do is converse. We’re like the people in a Spanish textbook. Maria and Julio, they never shut up.
(then)
What am I going to do without you?

♫When you’re screaming, but they only hear you whisper
I’ll be loud for you
I’ll be loud for you♫

Tully hears Marlo loud and clear when no one else does, which makes sense for the plot twist: you know yourself better than anyone else. So I get the direction this movie was striving towards, but I still feel like some preparation and clues sprinkled throughout would’ve gone a long way.

In the end, the film succeeds at sharing many insights with the viewers, so I can’t let one bad part shatter all the good it build prior. In a way, the twist opened an exciting gateway of conversations to circle around the idea of self-acceptance. The good overshadows the not-so-pleasant moments, as my aforementioned theory states.

I’ll end my review favorably with picturesque scenes:

Be sure to check out the trailer, which perfectly captures the themes established in the movie, here:

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Review: How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk

I wholeheartedly stand behind the belief that through our interactions with children we can learn how to behave respectfully to our surroundings; patience, kindness, and acceptance should be shown to all.

So, picking up this book at the library (where I coincidentally discovered the shelf full of psychology reads I’m about to devour!!) felt like the natural next step in learning more about our methods of communication. Also, I have a nine-year-old sister at home who I want to feel like she’s being listened to as an equal, which is where this book came in handy.

How can I express my honest feelings in a way that will make it possible for the other person to hear me and even consider what I have to say?

I was beyond keen on making sure I’d implement the many useful pieces of advice offered in this quick read: The emphasis put on simply listening and making sure they know you’re on their side, the importance of acknowledging the kid’s emotions and not brushing them off, accusing vs. describing feelings, giving tips on problem-solving, being conscious in your word choice because truth without morality is not truth. Like this brilliant quote I read from Haim Ginott:

“Truth for its own sake can be a deadly weapon in family relations. Truth without compassion can destroy love. Some parents try too hard to prove exactly how, where and why they have been right. This approach will bring bitterness and disappointment. When attitudes are hostile, facts are unconvincing.”

These instances helped me understand the best:

  • Why our “natural” response tends to minimize their emotions:

“I also think it’s natural,” I said, “for parents to push away painful or upsetting feelings. It’s hard for us to listen to our teenagers express their confusion or resentment or disappointment or discouragement. We can’t bear to see them unhappy. So it’s with the best of intentions that we dismiss their feelings and impose our adult logic. We want to show them the ‘right’ way to feel.”

The ultimate goal of a parent is to reach the stage where their kid will have the confidence to listen to themselves and make responsible choices on their own.

“That’s the big challenge,” I said. “To shift our thinking from ‘how do I fix things?’ to ‘how do I enable my kids to fix things for themselves?’ ”

  • On the negative connotations of punishment; opting to use alternatives such as #1 State your feelings. #2 State your expectations. #3 Show how to make amends. #4 Offer a choice. #5 Take action.”

“When you punish a kid, you close the door on him. He’s got no place to go. It’s a done deal. But when you take action, the kid might not like the action, but the door is still open. He still has a chance. He can face up to what he did and try to fix it. He can turn a ‘wrong’ into a ‘right.’ ”

Also: the four-panel comics really brought the ideas to life:How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk 1-- bookspoils

Instead of Angry Reprimands

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk 2-- bookspoils

When Praising Kids

Instead of Evaluating …How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk 3-- bookspoils

How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk 4-- bookspoils

In short:

  • Feelings matter. Not just your own, but those of people with whom you disagree.
  • Civility matters. Anger can be expressed without insult.
  • Words matter. What you choose to say can cause resentment or generate goodwill.
  • Punishment has no place in a caring relationship. We’re all people in process—capable of making mistakes and capable of facing our mistakes and making amends.
  • Our differences needn’t defeat us. Problems that seem insoluble can yield to respectful listening, creativity, and persistence.
  • We all need to feel valued. Not only for who we are now, but for who we can become.”

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