It was a dog’s day at work that had me praying Psalms 35 and dreaming murder. To calm down the inner battleship I took the afternoon off and went to the movies – only because Happy Hour hadn’t started yet. Wasn’t my first choice. But obviously someone out there had a plan. My student cousin joined me and we bought tickets for What To Expect When You’re Expecting.
Dear Reader, I add all of this personal background to this unconventional movie review to attempt to explain my uncharacteristic behaviour and protect my badass rep. Just for the record, Bushlings doesn’t cry. Not in the movies. Especially not in a comedy. Not in public. And as far as about 99.9% of the people in my life will tell you, NOT AT ALL.
The movie began with such hope – the story of five women who found themselves expecting. Each of them was a different lady – a young (but absolutely DELIGHTFUL) bimbo married to an old legend, their (“their”) daughter-in-law expert in breast-feeding without ever having done it, a witty young woman working in the dog-eat-(hot)dog world of Food Trucks, a beautiful photographer unable to have children of her own, and a celebrity fitness trainer knocked up by her dance partner on a celebrity dance show. It was HILARIOUS! There were fits of laughter to be found in the beginning, the middle, the end, every minute. From the way in which they found out they were pregnant, to the craziness of their pregnancies, to the delivery room, to Ethiopia this movie was fully engaging.
I am not going to be a spoiler but I will touch on four moments that were planted in my memory forever.
- The Dudes. This movie was not just about women and not just for women. It was for and about humanity. The Dudes, headed by Chris Rock, operate in accordance with an unbreakable code that is so absolutely, authentically, terrifyingly and irritatingly masculine it made me cringe, laugh and embrace them all at the same time. I can see my brothers in these Dudes, my friends, and my Man in Iraq. If there is ever a man who fears fatherhood (all of ’em), they should watch this movie. Women, sit them on the couch. Tie them down if you have to. Put the thing in front of them. It shows regular and authentic dudes doing fatherhood in their regular authentic dude way. All manhood and all powerful and all scary.
- The Miscarriage. It hit me right in the chest. I’ve never had one but have had the same fears. Her cruelty, her blame, her crushing disappointment came at me as words that could have come from my own mouth and tears (I admit) that could have welled up in my own eyes.
- The Meltdown. Yes, I laughed with everyone else. It was hilarious! At the same time I imagined WOW, that’s probably what pregnancy would do to me. Big as a house, fighting my own body, farting and peeing and effing and blinding. Perhaps crying? Maybe not. I wanted to reach into the screen and hug her whale of a mummy-tummy and tell her I was rooting for her.
- The Adoption. Here I need to pause before I write. ………… OK. I’m ready. Her ENTIRE story gripped me. Her insecurity at not being able to do what every woman is built to do and give her husband a child, her fear of not being good enough and undeserving, her love at first sight for the ugly (yup – I said it) little kid in the photograph who turned out to be absolutely gorgeous in person – it consumed me. Will this be my story? Will it be my pain and my battle? Is that the happy ending I will find? Women who have never been pregnant sometimes (often) wonder. It may be turn out there was never anything wrong with our ability to have kids, just that we’ve been smart with our protection, but seeing the worst case scenario play out so beautifully really gave me a sense of peace. Bushlings would never admit that she wept through the ceremony. She would adamantly deny there being any possibility that she could cry rivers down two of her cheeks in the theater, in PUBLIC. She wouldn’t tell you that she could weep while writing about it. Never would you get her to admit to feeling rips at her heart while remembering the beautiful, alone, unparented, forgotten, unloved, unnamed, unrecognized Ethiopian child desperately in need of the motherhood of a woman whose eggs wouldn’t perform even after she had decimated her 401k on IVF treatments. It would never do to react like that.
As soon as this thing opens up in a theater near you, drag everyone you know and go see that movie.
What to Expect was not what I expected. It wasn’t a story for women or for men or for children or for adults. It wasn’t geared to any population in particular. It was a story about all of us – the one thing we have in common throughout all of humanity. We each were born to a woman, carried for up to nine months. Each of us is a combination of either having children, wanting them, and/or fearing them. This is about every one of us who has been a child.
This is our story.