Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Reality Bites

Reality TV is, of course, the latest craze in television programming. It seems like every network is jumping at the chance to show people doing stupid/dangerous/funny things while cameras roll. Many of these shows focus on families, such as SuperNanny, Nanny 911 or Wife Swap.

I admit to watching some of these and other reality shows. I have no excuse - I just find them entertaining. But the one thing that I always wonder whenever I watch one of these shows is, what are they NOT showing? I like to put myself in these people's places and consider what I would do in that situation. My first thought is that I'd be embarassingly crabby. I generally work well under stress, but if I didn't have a hot shower and a halfway decent meal in more than a day, it would NOT be pretty.

I'm especially amazed at the new nanny shows where the children are beasts and the mothers have great bodies and the patience of Mother Theresa. Where do they get these women or where are they hiding their valium and their TrimSpa? If one of my kids was bouncing all over the house, ignoring me and talking back, I'd be screaming so loud the windows would rattle. But on these shows, the women calmly look at the kids and say, "Please listen to Mommy."

When couples are shown on reality shows, it's often endearing to watch them support each other, call each other "baby" 25 times and cheer each other on in challenges and difficult circumstances. Talk to my husband and ask him what I would be like in one of those situations. Let's just say that 21 years of a solid marriage wouldn't be enough to keep us together in that moment. With no sleep, lots of stress and a TV camera in my face - what - are you kidding me? He'd catch the next plane home and I'd probably buy him a ticket.

What is real? Real is kids who don't wake up in the morning until the third time you pound on their door. Real is kids who won't talk in the morning when they do wake up. Real is making your kids lunches that you know that they'll hate but you had nothing else in the house to give them. Real is feeling so frustrated by motherhood that you wonder why you didn't listen to Sister Nila in 7th grade when she talked about vocations. Real is cleaning your house by dumping your clutter in laundry baskets and hiding it in the basement. Real is kids who cry the night before a giant project is due because they never worked on it since it was assigned two months ago. Real is going days not talking to your spouse not because you don't love them but because your brain has atrophied from the lack of adult conversation and if you sit down to talk to them you'll definitely fall asleep. Real is skipping several pages in a child's book when reading them a nighttime story so that you can get back downstairs to finish the laundry.

I've seen reality and I've seen reality TV. One has almost nothing to do with the other. And isn't it better that way? I don't know about you, but I really don't want to watch my life onscreen at night. I much prefer a good drama!


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