The Bad Mother’s Handbook

Two days ago, while flipping aimlessly and mindlessly through the hundreds of useless cable channels, I stumbled upon this movie. (Based on the book of the same title.) It was pay-per-view, so my first instinct (after reading it was a Robert Pattinson film) was to google it and check out the trailer. It looked promising and I even saw a few good clips on-line. Satisfied, I paid $5 and settled in to watch the film.

First off, for the Robert Pattinson fans out there, this film has very little to do with his character. His is a bit part with about 10 minutes of screen time and the trailer is completely misleading as to the content and story that moves this film. He does a tolerable job, but it’s far from his best work and he’s getting much better since he has done more films. Honestly, he has so little time on screen in this film that he can’t to do more than be a caricature of a nerd.

In reality, this is a story about three generations of women and their struggles to be good mothers and daughters. As such, it is a good film, though it feels rushed to get to the end and doesn’t deal too much on the complexities of teen pregnancy and the results of decisions made.

At the start of the movie we are introduced to Karen, mother of Charlotte. Karen is complaining that she never gets to do what she wants since she must care for everyone else. (This is a complaint which she repeats doggedly throughout the film. You really start to not like the whiney, selfish creature.) Her teen daughter, Charlotte, even with taking precautions, ends up pregnant by a guy who is not only despicable, but also the worst kind of deadbeat. Charlotte decides to keep the baby despite her mother’s protests. Simultaneously, Karen learns that the woman she thought was her mother had actually adopted her, throwing Karen into a crisis of identity wherein she bemoans the life she might have had and may have missed. By the end of the film, you learn that she was incredibly fortunate to have been adopted and she learns (or rather re-learns) what it means to be a mother.

I liked the film because of the focus on the relationships of the three women, and especially the complex role of ‘mother.’ Summing up how inadequate to the task of mothering (or parenting, really) many of us feel, Karen tells her daughter that she will never feel good enough, that she will make mistakes and hurt her child when all she wants to do is love him. And that this is just how things are. I remember feeling that way when Elliot was born. Reduced to tears, I sobbed into his baby ear that I would try my best; I loved him more than my own life and he deserved to have the best of everything in this world. It’s a daily battle with myself since I know I fall short of my goal to be the perfect mom to the perfect kids. This movie lets us admit that perfection will never be attained. They could have made it a little longer and fleshed out the characters more, but it is a fairly light hearted look at the subject of motherhood.

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About Abstract Emoting

Mommy, what is it you do to make your tummy jiggly? That about sums up my life. Welcome to my blog. Enjoy your stay.
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2 Responses to The Bad Mother’s Handbook

  1. Pingback: The Bad Mother’s Handbook, by Kate Long | Abstract Emoting

  2. Suzy says:

    When we become mothers and realize we aren’t perfect, it is time to forgive our own mothers we expected to be perfect but instead let us down at times. Do you remember the day I dropped a bowl in the kitchen and it broke? You were about eight years old. You were visibly shocked and made the comment to yourself, “Mommy isn’t perfect.” I decided right then you needed to see my un-perfection more often so you wouldn’t put me on that pedestal. I hope it helped you.

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