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7 Things “This is Us” has Taught Me About Motherhood

***Disclaimer*** If you have not watched this show and plan to do so, there are potential spoilers in this post.

I remember when I first started seeing ads and previews for the new NBC show, This is Us. I will always be #TeamGilmoreGirls when it comes to Milo Ventimiglia, but this show has blown a lot of my expectations out of the water. It feels kind of like the “new Parenthood,” since similarly to that show, almost every episode elicits tears and all the feels.

If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about the Pearson family: parents, Jack and Rebecca, and their three children, Kevin, Kate and Randall. Kevin and Kate are their biological kids and Randall is adopted, however, they all have the same birthday. [I know, it sounds complicated, just watch the show…trust me, you won’t be disappointed.] The show spans different time periods, portraying life before the children came along, when the children are growing up, when they’re adults, and everywhere in between.

I’ll be honest, [if you promise not to judge me…] I’ve watched shows like Revenge, Scandal and even Pretty Little Liars, [remember, I said don’t judge…] but there’s something about this show that feels like it’s exactly what America needs right about now. It evidences the good times as well as the bad, love as well as pain. But in the midst of the love and pain, it shows a family that sticks together. They celebrate each other when life is good and support each other when it’s not. It just feels like real life, you know? [At least, as much as a TV show can.]

Since becoming a mom, I tend to see most things through the lens of motherhood. And because this show is about a family, it’s hard to ignore the role of motherhood and what kind of a mother Rebecca is. Even though the show is only a little more than halfway through the first season, Rebecca has already reminded me of some important aspects of motherhood. They may not be completely new notions, or advice I haven’t heard before, but some days you need to be reminded of things you already know as you live out your days being called “mommy.”

So here are 7 things [although I’m sure there’s a lot more I could also list] that This is Us has taught me about motherhood:

Our children hear more than we think they do. It’s no secret Kate struggles with her weight, and that it began at an early age. When Jack comes home one night, and gets excited about taking his family out to ice cream, he picks up Rebecca and twirls her around. As he puts her down, she tells him, “none for me, if you still want to be able to pick me up!”

Later, Kate tells her mom she’s pretty, to which Rebecca replies, “well if I’m pretty, you’re pretty, cause we look alike.” Then as Kate retrieves a blouse for her mom, she notices that it’s a size small, compared to the size XL sweater she’s wearing. The only part of those series of events Rebecca probably remembers is telling her daughter she is pretty, but clearly there was so much more to those interactions that Kate took to heart.

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we expect, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to turn out wrong. In the pilot episode, Rebecca is pregnant with triplets. She goes into labor and unfortunately ends up losing one of the babies. After her doctor tells her husband, Jack, about the baby, he offers some advice on how to deal with such an awful situation. What has now become one of the iconic statements of the show, he says:

“I’d like to think that you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.”

Jack and Rebecca go on to adopt a baby who was left at a fire station that same day, and name him Randall. This decision turns out to be one of the biggest blessings in their life, and obviously in that baby’s life as well. I would say that is definitely one way of turning a sour lemon into sweet, sweet lemonade.

It’s important to notice what your husband does behind the scenes. In a recent episode, Rebecca is asked to join a jazz band tour of the East Coast. When she says she has to ask her husband before committing, her bandmate, Ben, [who clearly has some sort of extra feelings for her] tells her if her husband really loved her, he’d let her join the tour. [Ben hasn’t learned the important lesson that one does NOT mess with Papa Pearson.]

In an effort to show what a rockstar husband and father Jack is, Rebecca goes on to passionately state all the amazing things Jack does: working 10-12 hours a day, picking up slack at home so she can pursue her musical dreams, being present at every single one of their two sons’ football games, and cutest of all, he always leaves her a glass of water on her bedside table after a gig so she doesn’t get dehydrated. [All the heart eyes for Jack.]

It’s SO easy to take for granted the little things [or the big things!] our husbands do for us due to extreme exhaustion. But if we really take time to think about it, without those mostly unnoticed, little acts of kindness and service, our lives wouldn’t function nearly as well as they do.

[Side note: I realize that not everyone reading this is married, so this could also translate to anyone that helps you out in a big way; parents, friends, boyfriend, etc. Everyone should feel appreciated.]

Being a mother is not our ENTIRE identity. As a mother of littles, it can definitely feel like being MOM is 100% of who we are, all day long, every moment of every day.

We wake up to our babies, we spend our days feeding them, changing them, playing with them, comforting them, feeding them some more, and just keeping them alive in general. We collapse into bed exhausted each evening and wake up [way too soon] the next morning, simply to do it all over again. But even when life feels as if days like that are endlessly on repeat, being a mother is not our complete identity.

We are still women, wives, daughters, sisters, friends, nurses, teachers, counselors, artists, and so much more. Rebecca portrays this well by pursuing a music career, even while being a mother. As shown in #3, clearly it takes everyone’s help if you want to pursue something that will take your time away from your family, but it can be done. It might not seem realistic when you have itty, bitty babies and toddlers, but life is lived in seasons. Being a mom doesn’t mean we have to give up on our dreams and passions. They might just have to be postponed for a little while.

Even when we think we’re at our LEAST sexy, our husbands still find us irresistible. The pilot episode begins on Jack’s birthday, where a very pregnant Rebecca thinks that her large belly will keep Jack from wanting his birthday romp in the sack. But he still wants it all, including the tradition of Rebecca giving him a seductive birthday dance, [which causes some extra laughter from Jack when she appears with her lingerie on top of her clothes since it doesn’t fit on her pregnant body.]

There have been days when I haven’t showered, am wearing the same sweatpants that I was wearing the day [ok, dayS] before, and don’t have a lick of makeup on. And somehow, my husband still finds me beautiful. I don’t always understand, or feel that way myself, but he sees it. And it’s those moments I need to learn to accept his compliment instead of dismissing it simply because I don’t FEEL beautiful. If I can see myself through his eyes, it won’t matter how I feel. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

In a world where divorce is at every turn, we need to make sure to give time, effort and love to our marriage. In a very unexpected turn of events, Jack and Rebecca’s best friends Miguel and Shelly announce they’re getting divorced. And after a montage showing how their own marriage has gone from lots of passion [RIP soap dish…] to what almost seems like boredom, it’s clear no marriage is immune of growing stagnant.

Jack and Rebecca discuss their reactions over Miguel and Shelly’s announcement, and after Rebecca’s comment that it’s sometimes more complicated than pure and unending commitment, it’s clear Jack is slightly worried. At the end of the episode, Jack blindfolds Rebecca and takes her back to their very first apartment, which he has decorated with Christmas lights and flower petals, in an effort to remind her of where their love began. 

Now, it’s very clear Jack is raising the bar on what it means to be a husband, and putting a lot of men out there to shame, but instead of dismissing it as a TV show portraying an unrealistic marriage, we should all try to be a little more like him. He sees his marriage getting a little stale, so he goes back to where it all began, where he and Rebecca had some memorable moments. Back when life was a little more simple, [aka no kids] and they had a lot more time to focus on their love and marriage.

He shows that his marriage is a priority, his commitment is true and lasting, and he is still crazy in love with his wife. I bet if we all tried a little harder to be more like him, there would be a lot less divorce. That might be naive thinking, but it definitely couldn’t hurt!

We need help! In an episode where the Pearson family goes to the pool, Randall wanders off and Rebecca finds him with with a group of other African American kids and their parents. [Randall is African American, the rest of the Pearson family is white.] One of the moms gets into a somewhat awkward and heated conversation with Rebecca about how she didn’t introduce herself to any of them, and Rebecca seems a little offended and put-off.

Later, Rebecca swallows her pride, and walks back up to the woman, asking some questions about how to better care for her son. From there, the two strike up a friendship, and discuss a future playdate for their sons.

This example may not resonate with someone who hasn’t adopted a child of a different race, but it still goes to show that as mothers, we need more help than we think we do. You’ve probably heard the quote a million times that “it takes a village,” and that’s true no matter what your village looks like. If we attempt to do this thing called motherhood on our own, we’ll crash and burn, and our children will suffer. We need help and we need each other!

5 Responses to 7 Things “This is Us” has Taught Me About Motherhood

  1. Jessicad
    Jessicad March 13, 2017 at 10:04 pm #

    Jenn,
    This was brilliant!!!! I love this show and you hit the nail on the head with the mommy lessons embedded.

  2. Carrie Chambers March 15, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    I love this! I remember the pilot episode where Jack still wanted a very pregnant Rebecca and it made me think of my husband and how I’ll say things to him like, “I haven’t shaved my legs”, and he always replies, “you say these things as if they’ll bother me!”

    • Jenn Grandlienard March 15, 2017 at 10:55 pm #

      Exactly! My husband says the same thing! The things that bother us never seem to bother them! Thanks for reading!

  3. Becca March 18, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    So much yes! I agree with everything you said, but especially that this show is exactly what we all need. We look to tv as a means of escape but there’s so much coming at us. It’s a breath of fresh air! And it resonates like Parenthood just in a different way. Maybe because it shows financial struggles (something I think most of us understand) and how some issues can’t be fixed or covered in just one episode. Also #teamJack!!!! All day errrday!

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