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I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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A brutally honest review

The hubs and I recently went out to watch the movie Tully.

I haven’t seen a movie, let alone go to the cinema for what feels like centuries, so it was a special outing.

I insisted we go – because after seeing the trailer (and it being from the makers of Juno, which I loved) I thought: here’s a movie for ME (for us!) for mothers of young children.

And it was. It’s a movie that delicately portrays a very raw, real – and painful – look at the challenges and stresses of modern day, western, middle class parenting.

I won’t spoil it for you – but ever so briefly – Marlo is a stay at home mom to two, no (*SURPRISE!*) – THREE little ones. She’s overwhelmed by the 5 C’s I often discuss here as the five C’s of Parental stress:

  1. Chaos
  2. Clutter
  3. Clinginess
  4. Confusion
  5. Conflict

Her husband is a well meaning but generally absent guy – working all day and playing video games all night.

Her son is “quirky” (no one directly mentions that he may have special needs) and is being expelled from school.

Her house is a shrine to legos.

Her body hasn’t quite “bounced back”.

This all begins to change when she finally accepts a generous offer from her brother of a night nurse, named Tully… but what eventually emerges from the movie is a portrait of this modern motherhood as an experiment in losing one’s mind.

We (hubs and me) walked away from the movie feeling low. Feeling empathic towards Marlo and her fellow overwhelmed mamas, feeling disillusioned by the isolation, the lack of support and the emotional chaos mothers like Marlo are facing daily.

And I know this only too well because I, too, have been in her shoes. And so have thousands of members in our TPJ community here. 

Here’s what I appreciated about Tully:

I loved the no bells-and-whistles portrayal of motherhood. It was no caricature. Marlo was so believable and Charlize Theron’s performance was raw and vulnerable.

I loved the empathic approach – we care about Marlo and understand her. We get glimpses of who she “used” to be before motherhood emptied her soul and character. The moments of humor and of joy interspersed among the postpartum aftermath.

I appreciated that this wasn’t a sarcastic or unkind portrayal. It felt real.


It still plays into the pain of parenthood – and doesn’t offer us a hopeful model to aspire to.

We walk away feeling like motherhood sucks and there’s no saving grace.

We’re left with the sense that marital disengagement, plump oozing bodies, frozen pizza, school dramas, messy homes, sleepless nights and a sense of emptiness is all there is in motherhood and we shouldn’t expect (no less create) more. 

This is who parents always are on the silver screen: Fat, broke, mind-numbingly boring, forgetful, “uncool”, out-of-date, tired versions of themselves.

Just for once, I’d love to see a realistic portrayal of what parenting could be – a meaningful and powerful journey of growth.

Here’s the problem I have: Hollywood and media at large have cemented in our collective minds a mental model of parenting as victimhood, martyrdom and servitude. Neglecting to portray the other side or the alternatives to this model.

Thus we enter into parenting with these expectations and these become our self fulfilling prophecies.

My invitation to our community today is…

To become media savvy.

To note and reject every. single. time a movie, magazine or person in our lives makes the rude and incorrect assumption that we must be “suffering” or that we have our hands way too “full” or that it has to be so “hard”.

We’ll accept their empathy when we feel raw and vulnerable and we will share honestly when times are genuinely difficult.

But we will reject the idea that this is all that parenting can be. That there aren’t avenues we can take and choices we can make to love parenting and to parent from love.

Because there are, I know it, first hand.

↓ ↓ ↓  LEAVE A COMMENT  ↓ ↓ ↓

Have you seen the the movie Tully, or plan to? Do you feel that the media portrays parenting in a model of victimhood, martyrdom and servitude? 

Comment with POWER! If you’re ready for a NEW and EMPOWERING portrayal of Parenting in the media.


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8 Replies to “What I *REALLY* thought about the movie Tully”

  1. POWER! Avital, I send you my deepest gratitude, stumbling across your vlog, was my very first glimmer into the world of a peaceful parent. Up until then, everything I had heard through other people and especially, yes, the Media, was parenting as one long episode, which we have to survive and hopefully not mess up our kids too badly. I dared to dream of being a peaceful parent myself. I had no resources, no village and well no “good enough” example, but the skills I have learned through your resources, makes everyday better, not perfect, thankfully, but better. I have built up an ocean of awareness from these resources and it has healed me and given me aspiration, hope and vision to be peaceful parent. What you are doing, your work, it’s a calling and putting this stuff out into the world is powerful.
    Hopefully one day we can see Media
    that portrays parenting as the chaoticly powerful, insanely wonderful, heart to heart, intensely vulnerable, beautiful and messy masterpiece journey it really is. Your work, this movement is going to benefit generations to come. My very best wishes on the upcoming birth of your baby. Xx

  2. So happy to have recieved this email…POWER !
    I just signed up for the Present Play class , and have contacted the
    support team on how to sign up with Facebook. I can’t wait to make time
    one of these days to go and watch Tully.

    Thank you.

    -Rosa Adriana

  3. Thank you for sharing this — I felt the same way. I wish the end of the movie had shown the help available, or Tully finding a village of support. We are not silos. I definitely enjoyed the acting and how realistically so much was portrayed, but I also feel like it was represented as more of a comedy than it actually was.

  4. Avital, I have read and watched you avidly, almost rabidly, for weeks now and my next thought is this, “Would you please make your mission a documentary? Sort of Embrace style. I love your videos, and a doc like yours could radically change the face of parenting in the wake of this new awareness.”

    Anyway, love your stuff. Thanks for all you do!

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