Nobody Talks About the ‘Otherhood’ Stage of Life—So I Made a Movie About It. – Cathy Schulman
Cathy Schulman is a well known Hollywood film producer for films like Crash (BAFTA Award for Best Film), Isn’t She Great, Sidewalks of New York and more. She’s also the CEO and President of Welle Entertainment which is committed to producing films, television, and media for diverse audiences with a focus on women issues. So it’s no surprise that she produced Netflix’s original ‘OTHERHOOD’ (August 2019) starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and Felicity Huffman (charges aside).
I happened to stumble across this movie the other day, deciding to give it a go (hesitantly I might add after watching the ‘M” fall off of the title “Motherhood” in the opening scene of this comedy movie). I had time on my hands (the perks of being an empty nester again) and besides, I love to watch the incredibly talented actress Patricia Arquette play out her roles on screen.
Now if we’re speaking about the movie, it was a little overacted and somewhat predictable. Not to mention, filled with your typical NY shopping spree, makeover and wine filled glass scenes. But this post really isn’t about the film. It’s about the topic that might appeal to other self-pitying mothers of adult children going through the same thing – not the shopping sprees, but the sense of loss as a mother and the identity that goes with it.
Naturally, the whole movie got me thinking of my own children who recently returned back to university. I couldn’t help but compare my experience to the characters’ experiences in Otherhood. First of all, I have two daughters. And in the movie, these three women each have a son. Well…grown up sons, that is. And from what I’ve heard out there from other mothers, they’re a different breed altogether.
Comparing myself to these middle-aged mothers with grown sons, my daughters are still connected to me. They’re young adults which means they’re still quite green around the edges. There’s still some dependency on the little things like my sage advice and my attentive and non-judge’y’ ear. Oh, and of course, for that extra pocket money when their own money runs out.
The other realization I had while watching these three on screen, pining over their sons who completely forgot it was Mother’s Day, was that I’m currently in the stages of letting go of my daughters and letting them grow up. But in the ‘otherhood’ stage, as Cathy Schulman points out, what happens when that day comes and you suddenly realize they’re all grown up and no longer need you? Painful? Probably. This was what this movie was exploring.
There’s a distinction when it comes to being an empty nester, the stage of letting your children grow-up versus letting your children grow distant. And it was Cathy Schulman’s article that made it clear to me. After reading it, I completely forgave the movie for falling short. I didn’t love the movie, but I loved the topic. Hats off to her for coining this term ‘otherhood’ in the first place and for bringing up a new subject matter for us ‘over 40’ women who might one day experience this sense of loss as needed mothers and within the movie, a sense of loss with our adult kids, too. The article made perfect sense to me….and I gotta believe it’s going hit home for several other mothers out there struggling in this new stage of life.
Hmmm…seems like this topic could make a perfect ‘hen lit’ book to me!