Would my kids care if I died tomorrow? Would they eulogize me at my own funeral? I know that this sounds morbid, but the thought has crossed my mind more than once. Motherhood can be a thankless, grueling grind, and leave it to FX’s “Better Things” for reminding me that I’m not alone in the most recent episode of the show called “Eulogy”.
In this episode, written by the show’s co-creator, Louis K., Sam, a single mother of three played by my new shero, Pam Adlon, is watching TV with her girls after a long day at work. Her character is a very successful actress and acting teacher. While flipping through the channels, the girls catch sight of one of her shows and whiz past it. Sam reacts in disbelief, feeling minimized. One of her daughters admits that she has never watched any of her mom’s work. Angry, Sam leaves the house.
I would do the same thing. I would leave. As a matter of fact, I have. I have felt so unappreciated after a day of juggling both work and kids that by the end of the day many, many times I’ve just left and fled to the nearest bar. I’ve even fled the country – having gone on a two-week trip to Vietnam a few years ago. Sometimes a break is everything.
Like Sam, I also don’t want to have to wait until I’m dead for my kids to appreciate me. I do so much. I work full-time. I take care of my family. I organize schedules, clean the house, make food, shlep them to place to place. I also care for my aging mother, much like Sam does on the show.
When Sam steps out to vent to a friend at a local bar about her children’s lack of devotion to her, we see her chatting with an actor friend. He tells her: “Nobody could be openly gay until I was too old to have any fun.” Sam tells him the same thing is happening to her and again, i related. Some days I don’t have much fun with all the minutia and literally lose myself. In between the driving the kids from place to place, yelling at them to do their homework, and making dinner, I try to find moments for myself, but it’s really hard. I’ve recently pledged to have more fun in life – I really have.
I also worry about my own mortality. I worry about what would happen to my kids, my husband, and my mother if I get hurt or die. Seriously, how could they cope without me? It’s a lot of pressure, and it makes my heart heavy.
When Sam returns, her kids have a fake funeral and eulogize her, enabling her to find out that her teenage girls do actually respect her and her career. Max admits that they don’t want to share her with the world, but she does want to watch her TV and film work. How raw, how open..how completely wide open and insightful of these girls. My teenager hasn’t yet opened up to me on this level, and I doubt she will, but I’m sure that she could if she tried.
I found myself crying along with Sam and her girls, and for just being a freaking mom. It’s so rewarding…in the end.
That’s why “Better Things” should be your next binge. It’s the most honest portrayal of motherhood I have ever seen. Do it. Make it your next binge and report back to me.
And stay strong.