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You've seen the trailer. It seemed to spread like wildfire (or coxsackie) through online mom communities from the moment of its release, and for good reason. It features a nearly unrecognizable Charlize Theron in the throes of a harrowing fourth trimester.


A montage of relatable scenes (set to a track with an ironic carnival feel) runs us through the endless carousel of comforting, feeding, diaper changes, pumping and sleeplessness many of us associate with those early newborn days. It's equal parts funny and relatable.

The film itself hits both of those chords, but also moves to a darker, stranger place, one not expressly hinted at in the trailer.

This is Tully: The latest Diablo Cody-penned, Jason Reitman-directed collaboration, their third to date. They joined forces again to create the rawest (and at select moments, the funniest) portrayal of the postpartum period that I've yet seen brought to screen. All three Cody/Reitman films clock in around a tight 90 minutes, and all three are character studies of a uniquely (well, by Hollywood standards) complex female lead.

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Tully is not without its flaws, as the controversy currently surrounding the film and its portrayal of maternal mental health makes clear. But because I believe in my (hopeful, feminist, film-loving) heart that representation moves the conversation forward, I'm grateful for its release.

Theron plays (or, dissolves into the role of) Marlo, a woman on the verge. On the verge of having her third child, a pregnancy which by all accounts appears to be unplanned and at least a little unwelcome, and on the verge of mental, emotional and physical collapse. She enters scenes pregnant-belly-first, the weight of her world, and all she carries, made literal.

To put it lightly, she's overwhelmed—a feeling most moms can relate to, at least to some degree. She is a pregnant, working mother in her early 40's, with two children, one with undiagnosed special needs.

He is consistently referred to as "quirky," to the point where the script seems to be underlining the frustration of raising a child whose special needs are constantly reduced to euphemism. He kicks Marlo's seat and yells incessantly as they drive to his private school, a place that responds to the quandary of how to best support him with a shrug.

Marlo's husband (portrayed evenly, and toward the end, touchingly, by Ron Livingston) is a loving father, though he remains nearly oblivious to Marlo's struggle. She's touched out, and he's tuned out.

At times throughout this first act, notably in an early scene in a coffee shop, Marlo seems to be almost sleepwalking through her daily life. She has a chance run-in with a woman who barely recognizes this very pregnant, very tired, suburban-dwelling iteration of her old friend Marlo, shedding light on her free-spirit past (plus a drop of foreshadowing for a later scene).

The old friend lets Marlo know she's still living at "the loft" in Bushwick—a particularly hip sector of Brooklyn—before speeding off on her motorbike. As Marlo watches her pull out on that vehicular symbol of freedom, you can practically hear her inner monologue asking, "How exactly did I get here?"

Marlo's cartoonishly rich-and-hip brother (his dog is named Prosecco and his elementary-aged daughter plans to perform "pilates" for her school talent show) offers to fund a night nurse for Marlo as a baby gift, expressing concern as he alludes to her past struggle with postpartum depression.

He later confides he "just wants his sister back," saying that he feels like her flame has been snuffed out. This analogy lands perfectly—even from a formal perspective, the beginning of the film feels like we meet Marlo in this dimmed place. Her home is dark, dull and a little stained-feeling, the screen taking on a dim and yellowed tone, echoed in her wardrobe—all physical manifestations of the world, outlook and season of life she currently inhabits.

Marlo initially balks at the idea of a night nanny, put off by the concept of trusting her newborn's life (and precious early bonding days) to a stranger. Then, a particularly upsetting episode at her son's school leaves her screaming with frustration in the school parking lot. (I found this scene to be particularly effective, as her minivan seems to represent the trappings of her #momlife, and the world-closing-in feeling that is enveloping her). She calls the night nanny.

And just like that, we meet Tully, the 26-year-old Manic Pixie Dream Nanny, who pokes her head through the doorframe to change the course of the film. Though their initial encounter and baby hand-off is appropriately awkward, I felt actual bodily relief when Tully looked earnestly at Marlo and said the simple words, "I'm here to take care of you."

Marlo doesn't know how to react, admitting she's not used to being cared for, and pointing out that she hired a nanny to care for the baby, not the mama. Tully counters that at this stage in the postpartum game, mama and baby are more like parts of the same whole: Emotionally, but also on a biological level—down to the very molecules still present in Marlo's body.

Tully is prone to these kind of offhand, philosophical-with-a-touch-of-science musings, in response to a straightforward question posed by Marlo. This recurrent bit underscores the split between the two vastly different worlds they inhabit.

After one particularly funny exchange, Marlo shakes her head, telling Tully she's like a "book of facts for an unpopular fourth grader." I see this split between worlds echoed in a recurrent dream Marlo has—a deep, cloudy, underwater shot shows either a woman struggling, trying to kick her way to the surface, or a mermaid, gracefully cutting through the deep. To me, the mermaid seems like Marlo's younger, freer, aspirational self, and a lot like Tully, swimming through life. (The drowning is, well, where we met Marlo a few pages back).

Tully has that kind of warm, immediately-intimate nature that always makes me a little wary of a new acquaintance. She slides right into the night shift of Marlo's life, snuggling the baby and sending Marlo off to bed. She cleans the house and brings the baby to Marlo's room *only* when she needs to nurse, waiting patiently (and a little eerily) in the dark of the room until the baby is done. Buoyed by this increase in sleep and support, the fog on Marlo's life begins to lift.

Marlo's regard for Tully moves from head-tilting suspicion, to trust, to a real affection. As the women bond, we see the light begin to turn back on within Marlo, she starts to laugh again, and starts to look at her new baby and smile. She also starts to stay up later, spending personal time with the nanny as she reconnects with the parts of herself that weren't visible at the start of the film, buried as they were under exhaustion, stress and likely PPD.

Things take a darker turn when the lines become increasingly blurred between the two women, as things are taken to a far more intimate/personal level. One night, the pair spontaneously head out for a night out in Marlo's old Brooklyn stomping grounds, where Marlo hits peak nostalgia for the way things once were, before having to call it a night due to her aching, unemptied breasts. (S/O to Tully for being a real one, and helping Marlo cope with this issue in the bathroom of a grimy dive).

The night also signals the end for the pair, as Tully lets Marlo know it's now time for her to leave, explaining she was nearly a stopgap to help Marlo get through those rough early days. Marlo doesn't want to hear it, but she doesn't have a choice. Their wild night out comes to a literal crashing halt when they get in a car accident on the drive home, the car plunging deep into a river, pulling the visual of Marlo's earlier dreams through to nightmarish reality.

I won't explicitly spoil the film's twist and resolution in this little ol' write-up, though the curious can very easily access that info with a click. I will admit that I found the ending to be less-than-wholly-satisfying from a narrative POV, though I did like the very final sequence of the film, particularly the tender moments between Marlo and her son, and an understated exchange between Marlo and her husband. Both offer slivers of hope and seem to hint at the start of a new season for the family.

Though the film may ultimately fall a little short of it's early promise, I enjoyed it for a few reasons. For one: Tully made me reflect on the transition I went through after having my first baby, and the inevitable reckoning with my past, "pre-baby" self, as well as the need to let that actual past go. Marlo's relationship with Tully truly brings this reckoning to life—as she learns to re-embrace a representation of her younger self, and eventually, to let that younger self go and move on, in a real way.

After becoming a mom myself, it took me a while to navigate back to feeling wholly like "me." When I finally reconnected with that essential part of myself, it was like the kernel of my sense of self was still the same, but completely transformed.

The transformation (or, transformations) a woman will experience through on her journey as a mother are not readily addressed in our culture or in conventional media, and I am excited to see a film with broad release deal with the very realness of this reckoning.

Diablo Cody herself isa mother of three, and she wrote this script right after having her third baby. In a promo soundbite put out by Focus Features, she described why creating in that context was a unique artistic experience: "I don't think I've ever written anything in that super-vulnerable postpartum state before, and I'm glad I did...I was able to put those kind of raw feelings of fear and exhaustion into the script."

The maternal mental health community has been actively frustrated and angered by the film's ending, and what they consider an irresponsible depiction of perinatal mood disorders. I respect and understand these concerns, and think they're an important part of the conversation.

In the wake of this controversy, the New York Times asked Cody if she'd consulted a maternal mental illness expert before writing the script. She said she "absolutely did not," a decision she stands by. She explained that she wrote from her own experience, and her own research, offering that one movie cannot possibly tell everyone's story, positing, "So why can't we have 10 more movies?"

This spirit, right here, is why I'm glad this film was made, and why I'm glad it's being so talked about. As a mom, a doula and an all-around fan of women, I think the topic of maternal care—including both mental and physical health—needs all the attention it can get. The fact that this story was brought to screen, and that its encouraging such feverish debates, is to me, a positive. The fact that Cody wrote such a uniquely feminine piece, while in such a uniquely feminine state of body and mind, feels progressive.


Will this film singlehandedly flip the script on our culture's perception of the mental load of motherhood, postpartum depression, and provide concrete next steps for a massive increase of maternal support? No. It's just an idiosyncratic story. Like motherhood, it's messy and imperfect, a complicated blend of comedy and tragedy, love and pain.

But, the film is igniting a conversation. It's forward motion for how Hollywood portrays and considers the complexities of motherhood. It's unique insight into how becoming a mother can affect and transform a woman's sense of identity. I think that's a positive baby step.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

This article was sponsored by Pipette. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Parents everywhere are feeling for Hamilton star Miguel Cervantes and his wife, Kelly, who just said goodbye to their daughter, three-year-old Adelaide. She died on Saturday, October 12.

Adelaide had been battling epilepsy prior to her death. Miguel and Kelly, who also share 7-year-old son Jackson, documented their daughter's life via Instagram, where they frequently shared updates on the little girl's condition.

But this week, they are sharing news of her death. "The machines are off. Her bed is empty. The quiet is deafening. Adelaide left us early Saturday. She went peacefully in her mother's arms, surrounded by love. Finally, she is free from pain + seizures but leaves our hearts shattered. We love you so much Adelaideybug and forever after," both Miguel and Kelly write alongside a photo of the girl's empty bed.

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Miguel, who played the title role in Chicago's production of the musical Hamilton, opened up about his daughter's diagnosis to the Chicago Tribune back in 2016. According to the report, Adelaide suffered around a dozen seizures every day. The seizures began when the little girl was just 7 months old.

Adelaide's mother, Kelly, documented the little girl's heartbreaking battle on her blog. Just a few weeks ago, she wrote her daughter a heartfelt letter. "You will not be getting better this time. The skills you have lost will not be regained. I am so sorry that your body has betrayed you in this way. It is not fair and it really, really, really sucks," Kelly writes."...As we make this transition I will be trying to understand what you want and need to keep you as comfortable as possible. Please forgive the extra pictures and videos I'll be taking, I know I'll want to hold on to all the memories I can. It's the things I can't capture that I will miss the most: the way you smell, and not just after a bath, but your sweet, "just you" smell. The feel of your forever baby soft skin and how tightly you squeeze my fingers even still. The way your hair feels when I run my fingers through it trying to comfort you and the weight of your body against mine in those rare moments when you let me snuggle you."

Our hearts are with this beautiful child's family.

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This new family would like you to know they "don't have to match!"

When we saw Sadie Sampson's story of how her baby boy Ezra came into her life, we just had to know more about this loving new mother and her husband, Jarvis.

Their journey to parenthood was slow and then happened practically overnight. The couple went through a complicated fertility journey and had come to terms with the idea that pregnancy and parenthood would not be in their future.

But everything changes when Sadie got a random text message from a friend: "Would you guys foster/adopt a child?"

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To understand their story you have to go back to the beginning of their story. After getting married in 2017, the Texas couple was determined to have a baby. When Sadie didn't get pregnant she sought medical help, and doctors were quick to suggest her weight was the issue.

" 'Lose weight, and you'll get pregnant right away,' said every doctor I saw," Sampson wrote on Love What Matters. "I had tried to lose weight on my own for so long without success, so I started seeking out other options. In February 2019, I underwent gastric bypass surgery."

Sampson has been chronicling her weight loss since then on her Instagram page. Jarvis joined her, getting his surgery this summer. But still, she couldn't get pregnant.

A week after deciding she was going to put her dreams of parenthood aside, Sampson heard from a good friend of hers who had a random question for her.

"Well, a friend of mine, and her boyfriend are considering foster care or adoption for their son," the friend said. "I told them that I thought you guys would be a great fit."

The Sampsons said yes. They were even prepared to be only temporary foster parents for the baby, who was born prematurely. Just over a week after that phone call, a caseworker informed them that the birth mother would like them to adopt.

"We went from not having any children, to the possibility of fostering one, to, 'You guys are parents!,' overnight," Sampson wrote.

Her whole family had been away on a cruise while this was happening, and returned the day before the adoption took place.

"My mom was very confused at first," Sampson told Motherly. "But once I was able to explain everything we stood in the kitchen and jumped up and down and then ran into the living room and told everyone else."

Because this was happening privately, they needed only a lawyer and no agency involved in the paperwork. They were able to greet baby Ezra in the NICU just an hour after he became theirs.

"The first time I saw him it was so hard for me to grasp the fact that he was mine," Sampson told us. "It took a while for me to realize that he is my son and I am his mom."

Ezra is the name his birth parents, who are white, had chosen for him. "When Jarvis and I looked up the meaning, which is 'helper,' we couldn't think of a better fit."


Sadie and Jarvis posed for photos proudly proclaiming their adoption story. "Not Showing Still Glowing" reads Sadie's shirt, while Jarvis' tee says, "Families Don't Have to Match #Adoption." Friends and followers on Instagram helped the new family, buying baby supplies on their registry and donating funds for their final adoption process. Now, social media is where they're sharing all the typical milestones of new parenthood.

"We had one plan and God changed the game completely," she wrote on Instagram. "Ezra has given us a larger purpose and we've learned so much from him in the short two weeks he's been with us. Families DON'T have to match! They are built on LOVE!"

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As an ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi talks to a lot of pro athletes. But as a parent he knows that sometimes raising kids is as hard as training for the big leagues (seriously, science proves that kids energy levels surpass endurance athletes' and parents are running after those kids).

Negandhi knows what it's like to be face-to-face with athletes that so many people idolize, but he also knows that a parent can be more influential than any big league idol, and that's why he's working with Dove Men+Care SPORTCARE to put real dads in the spotlight.

"We have a platform to showcase what they do as everyday athletes, but also as everyday men, everyday fathers," says Negandhi, who has three kids himself. He tells Motherly he tries to make sure he's active with his kids—playing sports with them so that they understand the importance of staying active—but also staying active with the kids when the touch football ends and the real parenting endurance test begins. Like many modern fathers, Negandhi is committed to doing more childcare than his own father did.

"My mom did everything in our house," he tells Motherly. "My dad worked, but my mom worked as well. And she did everything. She raised us. But at the same time she showed me another side. And many times growing up I said, 'How can I be different than my father?'"

Being involved with his kids and doing more of the unpaid work in his household than his own dad did is how Negandhi is doing it, and he's taking time to showcase three fellow dads who—while sharing their names with professional athletes—certainly don't get as much credit as the pros.

That is actually something of a problem in media right now. According to a recent survey by Dove Men+Care, 70% of men wish regular guys who are athletes (but not professionals) got more attention in sports media. Because as much as winning the Superbowl or making it to the major leagues should be celebrated, being a dad who is physically active and active in raising his kids should be celebrated, too.

Research shows that when kids grow up seeing dads exercise they are healthier, and while these three men happen to share their names with famous athletes, they don't get the same glory. So Negandhi and Dove Men+Care are giving these hard working dads some recognition.

Alvin Suarez

Alvin Suarez is teaching his kids that having a disability doesn't disqualify you from being an athlete. As a visually-impaired person, Alvin isn't the standard athlete we see represented in media. He plays Goalball, a sport that relies on keen ear-hand coordination, and he is certainly a keen father, chasing after his twin girls.

Alvin says the difference between sports and fatherhood is that you can train for sports, while parenthood takes you by surprise. "I try to be a good role model for my daughters and I want everyone to know that everyone has potential and that there is no such thing as a nobody."

Alvin has won championships as a Goalball player, but says holding his daughters in his arms for the first time was like winning a medal but multiplied by a million.

Sean Williams

Sean Williams is committed to his community and his kids. He uses physical fitness to connect with his kids and to, literally, save lives. A volunteer firefighter, Sean keeps fit so that he can use his body and energy to maximum impact. He isn't just changing the lives of people impacted by fires, but also his fellow dads.

The founder of The Dad Gang, an organization committed to celebrating and telling the real story of black fatherhood, Sean has created a space for dads to connect with their children and each other while staying active.

"One of the challenges we put out on social media is where you do pushups with our kids on our backs and that merges fatherhood and fitness," he explains.

If there was a Super Bowl for community service, Sean would be wearing the ring.

Chris Paul

A Marine Corps veteran, Chris needs a ton of energy to keep up with his blended family. It started out as an "all-girl Brady Bunch" he explains, as his wife and he had six daughters between them, but they've since added a boy to the family which now included seven kids. .

He's basically got his own sports team at home so it makes sense that Chris is super committed to staying fit for them. The Marine turned realtor takes time to help other dads in his community stay fit and knows when to draw boundaries to protect his time with his kids.

He's got some good endurance, but he's not going to work 15 hours a day when his kids are waiting at home for him. Chris says in former times dads were often passive figures in their kids' lives as the child rearing was done by others.

Like the other men, he's changing that. "I'm an active participant and I want to make sure that I can contribute to my children's lives."

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Back in 2017 when we learned Beyoncé was starring in a new remake of The Lion King I was thrilled. My son (my only child) was almost 2 years old and I told my partner I wanted The Lion King to be our son's first movie theatre experience. Going to see the original Lion King in a movie theatre was a big deal to me as a kid and I wanted to recreate that experience for my son.

Flash forward to July 2019 and The Lion King is in theaters—but my son and I are not. Turns out I really overestimated how long 3-year-olds can sit still. While my son loves watching 1994's Lion King at home (he always stands on the couch and lifts his stuffed animals to the sky during "Circle of Life") he's just not quite subdued enough for the cinema yet.

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So we have been waiting to see The Lion King at home, and now we finally can! October 11 marks the film's digital home video release, and the Blu-ray hits stores on October 22.

Rob Legato, a VFX supervisor on the film, tells Motherly that "the visuals are so well preserved on 4K and newer television sets that it is literally the mini theatre experience and you're not missing much by seeing it at home."

Basically, the digital version is going to be just as awesome as seeing it in theaters, except that we will be able to pause for potty breaks and my kiddo can stand on his seat pretending to be Rafiki without blocking anyone's view.

The movie is, of course, incredible, but so are the animals it's based on. Screening the movie at home is an amazing way to start conversations with your kids about the various animals in the film as they are of course more similar to the real animals they are based on then their animated counterparts were in 1994.

The filmmakers went to Africa to research the animals they were bringing to life and they also spent a ton of time at the Harambe Wildlife Reserve inside Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida watching various species to try to make their movements as realistic as possible. There, 34 species live on 110 acres and the filmmakers got to watch them closely, making this film incredibly detailed.

Some of the animal experts who work with these animals on a daily basis say that when they watch The Lion King, they can actually tell which characters are based on which of the animals they know in real life.

"This film presented a really wonderful and unique opportunity to bring the production crew to the animals here at Disney's Animal Kingdom. They spent about 6 weeks here collecting reference footage of the animals here and we partnered really closely with the animal care teams at Disney's Animal Kingdom to make sure that all of the filming that we were doing, the impact to the animals was minimized," says Jon Ross of Disney's Animals in TV and Film department

The film crew watched the animals from a distance, which is something families can also do at Disney's Animal Kingdom by taking the Kilimanjaro Safari or staying in Jambo House at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where giraffes and other animals can be seen right from hotel balconies.

But the work Disney is doing with the animals is more than a tourist attraction. The company is serious about conservation and protecting the animal species featured in the park and in its films. "Tied to the Lion King film we launched the Protect the Pride initiative," Claire Martin of Disney's Conservation & Partnerships team tells Motherly. "We realized that we'd lost half of the world's lions since the first Lion King film debuted and we want to turn that around, so we're working with the Wildlife Conservation Network's Lion Recovery Fund to help their vision to double the amount of lions in the wild by 2050," she explains.

Marin suggests that parents watching The Lion King with their kids can use the film to talk to their children about conservation issues and continue the education long after the end credits roll. "We encourage people to learn more, visit the website, get involved and learn more about how they can make an impact on lions and other wildlife across Africa," says Martin.

Through the website, parents can even download an activity packet (you can print it and make your kids a cool book) with all kinds of information and cool activities and to help kids feed their lion obsession in an educational way even when screen time is over.

The Lion King is available to stream now and will be on Blu-ray October 22 (with even more educational features about the animals!)

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