Men of a certain age know that it’s okay to cry. A good eye sweat is healthy, helps relieve stress and express your emotions. In my adult life, I had probably only cried a handful of times, which is a normal thing along with being a super cool brag. Then… your dude turned dad and the floodgates opened.
Holding my son, looking at him with my wife, watching him discover the world. EVERYTHING makes me cry. I’m not a constant blubbering mess, but it turns out my apartment is much dustier than I remember. Right now maybe you’re giving me the benefit of the doubt. “Those are life moments.” But here’s the other thing: I can no longer watch television or movies without crying.
Does your HBO Doc star kids? I’m sobbing. Your Netflix road trip flick features a frayed father and son relationship? Hand me those tissues. Don’t even show me anything from that tear factory Pixar. Those people are TEAR-orists (Sorry. I’m emotionally exhausted and taking it out on you.)
There are plenty of excuses for my brimming eyeballs. I’m getting less sleep. My son has softened me. I’m older and losing testosterone. But my tears are flowing faster because I relate to these stories now. The stakes are real and my empathy is not simply a reaction to narrative dynamics — it’s based on my actual life. These storytellers are hitting me where I live.
So what does this have to do with Mark Wahlberg? Well, the folks at Fatherly offered me a chance to see Mark’s new flick Instant Family. It’s a comedy/drama where Mark and Rose Byrne adopt kids from foster care. After seeing a screening I got to participate in a press junket and ask the stars a few parenting questions.
Was the movie good? I have no idea. From the moment the lights went down, I was a mess. The kids were too cute, the music too manipulative, and the performances too effective. I cried through most of the movie. I laughed too, but mostly, tears. This movie would have been very different for me seven months ago. After my son? I was a mess.
I did my best at the junket to have fun with the cast. You can check it out above. But the movie was a wakeup call that my media habits have changed since Fatherhood. A whole new world of stories is starting to affect me. Will I finally be one of the millions of people who watch The Is Us? Not sure I would go quite that far yet. But I’ll tell you this. I never thought a Mark Wahlberg movie would make me cry this hard. Except for Boogie Nights, of course.
See you next week. Enjoy this episode of Dude Turned Dad. Try and keep it together.