HEARTBURN BABYA couple of weeks ago, I watched on Netflix the 1986 movie, “Heartburn.”   I hadn’t seen that film since my son was one or two or more years old.   It was directed by Mike Nichols, a director as great as the two leading actors, Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

It is a story of a troubled married couple who have a couple of kids.   The mother eventually deals with her husband’s failure to play the game of marriage and parenthood by leaving the man.

The acting and the directing were incredible.   But what has driven my passion the past couple of weeks is the music.   The two main songs and the musical themes throughout the film directed my emotions to a place I need to recall right now.

The songs point out how mommies please while dads breeze with a less caring attitude for the family’s life together.

The timing of all of this simply confirms to me that there is more room in a broken heart.   The marriage of the mom and dad of our only child ended when the kid, our son, was around ten years old.   It had to end, and the finality of it all broke a few hearts.   But those breaks gave each of our hearts more room.   Much more room.

I watched that film and heard the songs and began writing this a couple of days after this year’s Father’s Day.   So, how in the hell can I honor moms here?   I can very easily do that because of what my son’s mom means to our son, to me, and to filling such hearts.   And to what other children I know feel about their moms.   And because of what one dear friend said to me one time, and because of what a long-time and my most dear friend has said to me on every Mother’s Day since 1995.

HEARTBURN CARLYThere are two songs from the movie, “Heartburn.”   “Coming Around” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”   Ever since watching that movie, I cannot stop listening to those songs.    They were mostly performed by Carly Simon and sung from the Meryl Streep character’s point of view.

Here are the partial lyrics of both songs.


“Baby sneezes
Mommy pleases
Daddy breezes in
So good on paper
So romantic
So bewildering

I know nothin’ stays the same
But if you’re willin’ to play the game
It’s comin’ around again
So don’t mind if I fall apart
There’s more room in a broken heart

Pay the grocer
You fix the toaster
You kiss the host goodbye
Then you break a window
Burn the soufflé
Scream the lullaby

I know nothin’ stays the same
But if you’re willin’ to play the game
It’s comin’ around again
So don’t mind if I fall apart
There’s more room in a broken heart

And I believe in love
But what else can I do?”


“The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.
Down come the rain and washed the spider out.
Out come the sun and dried up all the rain.
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.”

Look, I am not proud of much in my life.   I’m really not.   I could have done so much better.   I could have been more manly.   More decisive.   More successful.   A stronger man.   Among other things to be sure.   Please don’t mind that I fell apart a time or two.

But the pride Carly Simon’s words and melodies in the two songs from that movie conjured within my lame mind a few days ago, suddenly made Fathers’ Day a notion that brings motherhood to the forefront.

My son has the perfect mom to manifest the love they will always hold for one another.   She’s a mom.   His only real mom.   But that movie, the music and the twisted notion of mother-father-hood my friends once laid and still lay on me have made all things clear to this old man.

That one dear friend of mine, years ago after getting to know my relationship with my own child, said to me something like, “You’re also a good mom to your child.”   My long-time and dearest friend has called or seen me every Mother’s Day since 1995.   She greets me with the very same words each year: “Happy Mother’s Day, Moon.”

HEARTBURN DADS AND KIDSI may have totally misread the meaning of that movie and of the sounds and lyrics from the film’s music.   But the message I saw, heard and still comprehend from Carly and Meryl and Jack and Mike and my two friends leaves no doubt about the meaning of fatherhood.   The movie’s message was not aimed at mom’s, but at dads.   When one’s man-heart burns and breaks, make room for love there and for motherly things that only your children will understand.   Kiss them, hug them at every opportunity.   Be a second “mom” who also pleases.   Never fear somehow losing your masculinity when someone rewards your suddenly overflowing man-heart with the sounds and wishes of a “Happy Mother’s Day.”   Embrace every loving moment of such actions.   Believe in love.   It’s comin’ around again.   Through our friends, our loved ones – and – our children.

HEARTBURN JACK AND NICHOLENo one knows better than do I that “nothin’ stays the same.”   Marriages and families fail.   But after we dads weather all the rain that washes out all of us spiders and we simply allow ourselves to be mom’s for a while, our children see and learn from us dads exactly how to re-climb that spout.


Our children need only for the sun to come out and dry up all the damned rain.   And to know that when they sneeze, their dads please as well as their moms.   And that with every instance where the hearts of their dads and moms break, there becomes more room for their babies to live and thrive.

And to simply believe in love.

Leave a Reply