For several weeks I’ve been telling Dougie that on my big day I want to see the new Judd Apatow movie, This Is 40, “The sort’ve sequel to Knocked Up.” Thanks to a well-timed visit from my in-laws this past weekend, I got to see it early.
The movie struck a chord. In fact, I had a little hyperventilating snot-fest crying jag on the way home just trying to recap it. So you can imagine my surprise, nay, shock when I read a review bashing the movie for Leslie Mann’s “irrational emotions” who, “gets angry over nothing and curses and screams for half an hour.” The reviewer then calls lead characters, Pete and Debbie, “mundane” and writes that he prefers, “a film that depicts regular people in not-so-regular situations.” Well, Sir, I respectfully disagree. In MY opinion, sometimes it’s nice to see a movie I can relate to.
Every now and then I want to see a clever filmmaker step forward and have the walnuts to say, “Sometimes life sucks, marriage is hard, I don’t always like you, our kids can be little bastards, our parents give us emotional baggage, oh great now we’re giving our kids emotional baggage, ALSO life can be awesome, we make a great team, I don’t want to live without you, and if anyone messes with our kids we’ll gang up and shiv them on the playground.” In This Is 40, Judd Apatow does that.
In the movie, Pete and Debbie both turn 40 within a week of each other but Debbie isn’t ready to accept the harsh reality that like it or not, she’s getting older. Meanwhile, Pete’s record label is failing, their finances are precarious, their teenage daughter is hormonal, they’re both trying to kick bad habits, their nerves are frayed and their youngest daughter just wants everyone to get along.
Although I haven’t resorted to lying about my age, I do feel Debbie’s pain. In my head I still feel 25, but these crow’s feet, liver spots and grey hairs say otherwise. Sometimes I feel like Old Rose in the movie Titanic when she looks in to her long-forgotten hand mirror and admits, “the reflection’s changed a bit.”
I’ve been married for 14 years so my husband didn’t bat an eye when Leslie Mann went on an irrational tirade because that’s who he lives with. Normally, I have the patience of a saint, but when the tank is full, BAM, no warning, I’m a screechy howler monkey. My husband has control issues and thinks speaking in a loud voice equates to being right. It does not. More than once I’ve daydreamed about running over him with the family mini van. In fairness, he would probably admit there are times when he wishes I was suddenly struck mute. He wants me alive. He can’t cook and hates the line at Chipotle.
Once we decided to add bundles of joy to our little family, the stress-ometer went through the roof. When they were infants their little necks gave off an intoxicating scent so I forgave every time they barfed in my hair and all those sleepless nights. Now the kids are 11 and 8, and my husband and I have to do more than just play patty-cake and dress them in cute rompers. Holy hell, we actually have to mold these little independent humans in to empathetic, God-fearing, law-abiding, well-behaved citizens. I can’t even open a cereal box without mauling the top of it. I feel ill-equipped to take on a job of this magnitude.
More than anything, I was moved by the interaction between real-life sisters of This Is 40, Maude and Iris Apatow, who play Pete and Debbie’s daughters, Sadie and Charlotte. Teenage Sadie deals with Facebook bullying, raging hormones and boy drama. Charlotte, the youngest, desperately vies for her sister’s waning attention. Right now my children are in that glorious stage when they have inside jokes, finish each other’s sentences and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. They’re truly best friends. Doug and I both have siblings so we know this time is fleeting. All we can do is encourage them to stick together and then sit back and relish the closeness for as long as it lasts.
Vehicular homicide and shouting aside, there is no one I’d rather have beside me than my Dougie. I love him to my very core. That place Nicholas Sparks writes about in all his novels. The place so deep, only the love of my children or my parents could rival it. My body may be failing me but he still wants to have sex with it. My brain may be a little fuzzy but he’s there to finish my thoughts. When my daughter no longer wants to hold my hand, he’ll be there to fill it with his own.
This is 42. It requires a high fiber diet to stay regular, yoga to stay limber and concealer by Revlon. Marriage is hard, careers are unpredictable, familial relationships are a constant juggle and kids are emotionally exhausting.
Much like the end of This Is 40, all you can do is get up, hold hands, start over and choose happy.