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Mom's Night Out: There's Beauty in the Chaos

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - I have a new appreciation for moms, especially those raising small children in a household where both parents work.

My wife recently had surgery, the type that forces you to take it easy for several weeks in the recovery process.  That leaves me to run our household for a month (but who’s counting?) and let me just say it is everything I thought it would be and a lot more.  Rising before dawn, I need to make sure our nine-year old boy is up and ready for school. This translates to being dressed, fed a decent breakfast, teeth brushed, lunch made, and his backpack inspected to make sure it contains everything he needs for the day.  Then I herd him into the car and drive him to school.  From there it is off to my office for eight fast-paced hours, an experience jam packed with meetings and a plethora of projects with unforgiving deadlines. 

There is no time to take a breather because I need to drive as fast as I can (within legal limits of course) to round up my son from his after school program and shuttle him to soccer practice.  As soccer balls go whizzing past I try to squeeze in a few work related phone calls and emails.

With practice completed, it is home to prepare and eat dinner (assuming I don’t burn it), assist on math problems and help my young scholar develop a mastery of the English language.  This is just the beginning. It is now bedtime – bath, story time, and a few brief moments to thank God for our blessings that day.  For me, I must confess it is all a bit foggy, murky moments from just one day.  Now, multiply this by five days and my head begins to spin even more.

My recent experiences are just a small sampling of what most moms go through every day … with multiple children!  Yet they are battle tested, crayon-proofed against the ugliest of wall scribbling, and deserve a break!       

Getting a break is the subject of a new movie from the Erwin Brothers (October Baby) called Mom’s Night Out (MNO)Starring Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond), Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), and Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Rudy), MNO is the story of three women all in different stages of motherhood who plan and attempt a “mom’s night out”.  All they need is for their husbands to watch the children for three hours.  What could possibly go wrong?  Everything!

“I think what makes this movie distinct is the moments it chooses to focus on, and there are several moments in this that are legit,” says Astin, who in real life is married with three daughters. “They’re very real. They’re very human, and they draw you into the characters.”

Astin plays Sean, a mild-mannered businessman who must travel a great deal for his job.  Very considerate of his wife and her needs, he is in constant contact with the home front to make sure everything is running smoothly. In his mind, that is parenting.  Sean has the best of intentions but as his wife points out, it is hard for him to help out and mediate household conflicts from thousands of miles away.

“I think Sean’s character really captures how a lot of husbands approach their relationship with their wives,” explains Jon Erwin, who along with his brother Andy, directed MNO.  “As husbands, so much of the time, we're fix-it people.  We see our wife as another project, and if she's having a hard time with the kids or having a hard time with all the pressures and responsibility that go with being a mom, I think us guys suppose we step in and feel like we just need to fix her. It's like, okay, here's the problem; here's the solution. We're done.”

Alex Kendrick, best known for directing and starring in faith-based movie favorites Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous, portrays Pastor Ray in MNO.  He believes a movie like this is of critical importance because it illustrates how vital it is for mothers to receive the respect they so badly deserve.

“She (moms) has a priceless role helping to nurture these hearts, discipline them, raise them, love them, and we want to affirm, encourage, and remind moms that it’s worth the journey. There are days that my wife, who takes care of our six kids, looks at me like “rescue me,” or, “I don’t know what to do in this situation.” When these scenarios play out in this film, a lot of moms are going to relate to these scenarios, some of them tender, some of them hilarious. But at the end of the day, there’s beauty in the chaos.”

While a night on the town for moms seems like a great idea when it is being planned, the thought of leaving small children with their dads can sometimes create more anxiety than it’s worth – especially when you consider the dads in MNO (Astin, Kendrick, and Robert Amaya).  Factor in an immature, slacker friend (Kevin Downes) who is addicted to violent video games and you have a recipe for disaster. Thus, it is only natural for an already frazzled mom to feel a bit overprotective of their child’s well-being.

“I think that we feel this pressure to be everything, that we feel somehow like how our children wind up is actually more our responsibility than anybody else,” says Drew, who plays Sean’s wife, Allyson. “We put that on ourselves. It’s all very internal, it’s all kind of a lie that we tell ourselves.”

For screen veteran Heaton, who spent ten seasons playing a wife and mother on Everybody Loves Raymond, the opportunity to celebrate moms in a positive, Christ-like manner is certainly welcome.  To show moms, wrinkles and all in an authentic, comedic manner, is a plus.

“When you see your life portrayed in a funny way it sort of makes you understand that you’re not alone and that other people are going through this,” shares Heaton, who co-executive produced MNO with her husband David Hunt.  “It makes you realize you are going to be ok at the end of the day.”

In a season filled with faith-based movies tackling topics from atheism to the authenticity of heaven, MNO stands out for its light, comedic approach to what we should all be thankful for – the highly influential role that mothers play in our lives.

This movie is about honoring and celebrating what it is to be a mom, and recognizing how hard it is, and recognizing how important it is,” Drew says. “So, I want moms to watch this movie and walk out of the theatre feeling like super heroes, and feeling like the world is celebrating them, not just, “My husband says that I’m doing a good job.”

We want them to come and see a relatable story that they identify with, they can laugh at, and that they see purpose in and truth in,” adds Kendrick. “I hope people walk out of the theater having been entertained for sure, but they are reminded of the necessity, the importance, and power in investing in their children’s lives. My desire is that every man needs to raise his appreciation level for his wife and the mother of his children, because it is a difficult job. It is a wonderful job, and it’s worth it.”

Mom’s Night Out opens May 9th in theaters nationwide.


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