So I actually really enjoyed this movie despite its AP bashing. I particularly liked the main characters played by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph and the 100% Alexi Murdoch soundtrack.
It was one of those movies that technically should be in the chic flick category and therefore begrudgingly watched by my husband. But Away We Go offered just the right combination of quirkiness and adult humor to have my husband totally on board. In fact, he picked it out.
In the movie, a 30-something couple, pregnant with their first child, decides to travel around the U.S. to find the best place to settle down as parents. This multi-city setting choice for the script worked well aesthetically, providing a lot of great contrast for the scenes. It also served as a convenient way to couch the real journey taking place for the couple which was not so much an exploration of different cities, but of different types of parenting styles and parenting experiences.
We got a window into the heartache and joy that is only possible to experience as a parent, as well as a snapshot of the kinds of parents most people don’t want to be: a drunk mother who embarrasses and ignores her children, a highly negative and depressive father, a mother who quizzes her child incessantly to perform in front of strangers, and then BAM, pull me out of my “oh yeah, I agree they suck” trance, next in line for how not to parent was the negative caricature of an AP mother.
This character, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, has been referred to as either a “radical earth mother” or “condescending earth mother” in reviews I found online (cnn, filminfocus, lovefilm and focusfeatures dot com).
She was passionately dedicated to breast-feeding, baby-wearing and co-sleeping. We watch scenes with her tandem nursing a baby and a toddler (my husband says, “Toddler? He looked five to me.”), wearing her baby in a baby carrier in which he looks totally awkward and uncomfortable, and discussing how important it is for children to witness love-making in their family bed.
In one scene, she expresses horror at the gift of a stroller and wants it out of her sight. “I love my children. Why would I want to PUSH them away from me??!” she says later.
What made her character obnoxious was not what she believed in — but her over-the-top self-righteous nature about it all.
It’s unfortunate that the husband-wife screenwriter team of Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida chose to juxtapose judgmental personality traits with AP parenting choices. People can choose to be self-righteous about anything — a parenting style they prefer, a religious belief, a political view, a diet. But setting it up the way the writers did, viewers of the movie could assume that all or most people choosing to practice Attachment Parenting are radical and evangelistic.
I appreciate the opportunity the movie provided for me to reflect on my way of being with friends and strangers and to put in check any possible evangelizing that I might inadvertently do.
It’s just not cool. Every single pregnant woman and new mother receives hoards of unsolicited advice and it’s annoying as hell. I am working to be extremely conscious of doing this myself and resisting the temptation to offer advice to anyone about anything, including parenting, unless it is requested.
Yeah, I believe in the AP tenets. And I have a lot of friends who choose to parent differently and we all love our children more than anything in this world.
Taking AP too far, in my opinion, has nothing to do with nursing your children until they are four or five or believing it’s good for small children to witness love-making in the family bed. It’s acting like Maggie Gyllenhaal’s self-righteous character and touting that these parenting practices or any others are the only right way to parent for your child to be truly loved or nurtured.