The Problem with “Motherhood”

I have no great expectations when it comes to Hollywood depictions of motherhood — especially films that deal with urban motherhood, which seems like a different breed altogether — so I didn’t find the Uma Thurman vehicle, “Motherhood,” all that awful.

Not that there’s not a lot wrong with this movie (and for funny reads on that you can go here, here, here, and here). However, I can’t find what irks me most mentioned anywhere, which makes me wonder if it’s a blind spot in my own understanding.

Specifically, how Lucas, Uma/Eliza’s youngest, the “toddler,” is handled. For one thing, he’s three. Not a toddler, but preschool age. Might seem a small thing, but there’s a world of difference developmentally.

Why is he being carried or pushed in a stroller everywhere? The boy hardly spends any time on his feet! He seems to get very little exercise, even at the park, where he went down a slide and was pushed in a swing before falling asleep in his umbrella stroller. The stroller is practically a character unto itself.

Is this an urban thing, shlepping your child everywhere in a stroller, never letting him walk on the street? Is it to keep him from darting out into traffic, to help you carry sundries from here to there?

And yet he has to be the drowsiest three year old I’ve ever seen, napping a minimum of two times throughout the day. (Could be more, but I’d have to rewatch the movie to check. Only so much I’m willing to do for accuracy’s sake.) Every child is different, but only babies nap that often, I’m sorry to say. To my everlasting dismay, Vincent actually gave up naps completely two months before turning three.

It seems to me that Lucas should be at least a year or more younger for the way he’s treated to be believable. And I don’t mean he’s babied or molly-coddled — it’s all done matter-of-factly and without drama. Eliza does not smother her kids. But Lucas is a passive lump and largely a non-presence in Eliza’s day except as another burden to bear. Which I don’t think is the message they meant to be sending.

So why didn’t they just make the character a baby? I’m wagering it’s because Lucas has one cute line — which I can’t remember (see above parenthetical) — and a baby would be too young to speak it. In every other way, the choice to write Lucas as a three year old makes no sense to me.

This is ever-so-tenuously related to writing because Eliza is a mommy blogger and a once up-and-coming “lyrical fiction” writer. The first is the only part of that equation I find plausible.

So is it just me? Am I being too picky? Does parenting in NYC require having your child surgically attached to his stroller?

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