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Oven-mitt heroes

Miriam Orr

First off, some housekeeping. In the May 10 edition of the Wright County Journal-Press, you may have noticed that the title of last week's "Auteur Access" thought may not have matched the content. That's because there was a bit of a proofreading error, and we know – we've made a note of the mistake, and I have corrected it here. For those curious, it was supposed to be printed with the title "Girl of the North," but I suppose fate wasn't having it.

I wanted to start this week's column off with a brief shout-out to the Mom's of the world – Happy late Mother's Day, and I hope your time was blessed. I spent a lovely day with my own mom, where we picked up some lovely flowers, and purchased a groovy new cacti plant that I am most excited to introduce to my office. Just so you know, moms, your job is so underrated and under-appreciated, but I see you, and I want to let you know that you are awesome wherever you are, and you deserve some love.

This brings me to this week's film review. I saw "Tully" over the weekend, starring Charlize Theron. I went into this movie not fully sure what to expect, but knowing that this film had the premise of a mother having recently given birth to a newborn, and in desperate need of some help. So, she hires a night-nanny (a what, you may ask, like I myself did) to, what she hopes, help her catch a few hours of shut-eye by watching her newborn overnight.

This was an odd movie, to be honest. I wasn't a big fan. Aside from its R-rating for mildly pornographic content and a swath of swearing (trust me, had I known this movie was R-rated for those reasons, I would have given this a hard pass), it was oddly scripted and jumped around in a way that was difficult to follow.

We meet Marlo (Charlize Theron), mother of, more recently, three children. Her middle son is extremely autistic, but undiagnosed, and is quite the "quirky" handful. Her oldest daughter is struggling with her identity in school, and Marlo's husband is less-than-helpful in the family department. It's pretty evident straight out of the gate that Marlo is depressed, even before the birth of her third child, but the poor soul quickly deteriorates after having her baby.

So, she hesitantly hires a night-nanny, who begins immediately taking care of her newborn. Through a strange series of interactions, Marlo begins to take confidence in the girl, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), and develops a somewhat strange relationship with her. After a series of mishaps, it is discovered that Tully isn't everything that she seems, and Marlo is thrown for a loop (and so is the audience).

I wouldn't see this movie again, but I find it and the theme it highlights, interesting. Marlo is a severely depressed woman, dealing with two children with their own individual struggles (one happening to be autistic), and is an almost-literal cry for help. This film highlights the very real experience of a woman not only post-partum depressed, but also unsure of how to cope with the responsibilities of a difficult child, much less navigating the waters of having three young ones at home. It paints a very realistic picture of moms that need more than just a nod of sympathy – these women need a life preserver, and they need people that are willing to come up beside them and lend a helping hand.

At one point, Marlo faces the reality that her son is being un-enrolled from a prestigious school because his needs are far too advanced for the curriculum. Marlo has, for lack of a better term, a mental breakdown in the Dean's office, explaining that the world needed to recognize her son for who he was – a boy with special needs, not just a "quirky, unique" kid. She storms out of the office, alone and without help, after having been told weeks before that she needed to somehow manage to provide a full-time aide for her son at school, which the family can't begin to afford.

This is the life for many women in 2018 America. The CDC reports that one in 59 children are on the spectrum for autism, and that it is almost four times as common in boys than it is girls, and the data is continually compiling. With other disorders like these on the horizon for children, it is important to be aware of the families around you that are diagnosed, and lend a sensitive ear to their situation. They may need you more than you realize – if not for help, then perhaps just to listen. Not all mothers can be oven-mitt heroes, clothed in aprons and the latest workout gear to make an 8:00 a.m. Pilates class after dropping the kids off for school and soccer and baking a half dozen gluten-free cookies, after all.

Marlo discovers the severity of her own situation in a way I wouldn't want to see anyone have to endure. Friends, please make an effort to be approachable, available, and empathetic – there are more people out there than we realize who need our help. While I know we're all busy, please don't be too busy for someone to entrust you with a cry for help. This world wouldn't be as big and bad as we think it is, if we banded together to play the part of the Good Samaritan more often. Jesus Christ himself had an impact on the world, as did his disciples, and they managed to change the world – 13 men, in the ancient world. How much more of a network is at our disposal in 2018 America?

And mothers, bravo to you. You may not wear capes, but I'm sure your oven-mitts look just as nice.

 


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