I like TV and here's why: It's interesting. I think the Oceanic 6 are very interesting. I especially think non-fiction TV is interesting. For instance, it is interesting that a dull show like How Its Made does more to inspire me to reduce, reuse, and recycle than pretty much anything else I've seen or heard [from movie stars] that is overtly "green." I also think it's interesting that Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe--a privileged, opera-singer-turned-handsome-actor-and-spokesman-for Ford is, in his heart of hearts, a Marxist. God bless him and his Carhartts!
This new show, Secret Life of a Soccer Mom has really got me thinking. Have you seen it? They let a stay at home mom do her dream job for a week and then she is always surprised at the end with a real full-time job offer. It's also a surprise to the husband who takes care of the kids for a week while the wife is supposedly at the spa. I've seen the show three times and the mom has never taken the job offer. Once I was rooting for the mom to stay home. Once I was rooting for the mom to take the job. And once I was just rooting against the husband because he seemed mean. Is this show undermining stay at home moms? I don't think so. Maybe? Does it diss working moms? Sort of, but not really?
The show's host, Tracey Gold, is pregnant with her fourth son. (While definitely on the trim side, she doesn't seem so anorexic anymore. God bless her!) Clearly she's a working mom. But she's clearly supportive when the women choose to stay home with their kids. They send a team to "cook and clean" for the moms on the first day so "no one will notice you are gone," which kind of reduces stay at home momness to drudgery (which it sort of is). When the moms refuse the jobs the producers edit the show with loving music so it seems like there's so much more to staying at home and you feel like the moms are making a good choice. Except in the episode where the dad told his excited wife (who had been in the police academy for a week), "Nope. There's no way you are doing this. Period." That seemed kind of sad--but who wants to be a lady cop! Talk about a crappy dream job.
In one episode a little boy said the F word while his mom was off doing her dream job. At first I thought, "Whoa! She better not take that job. Her kids obviously need her home." But then I considered, "Maybe they wouldn't have learned the F word in daycare." This got me thinking.
I should explain that I am currently what you'd call a stay-at-home-mom. Until I had my fourth baby I worked part time teaching Freshman English at BYU. I'll probably do this again at some point (or never!) I grew up with a mom who worked full time and I know and admire mothers of all sorts. I know mostly good moms and very few shabby moms. Let me also assert that for all the heated discussions among upper middle class moms about working versus staying at home, in many cases the points on either side are moot because you've got working moms with no choice financially and/or stay at home moms with no feasible job prospects. It's very personal. It's very specific. And I really don't judge (unless you are a shabby mom).
But I sometimes wonder how much good I really do my kids by staying home. I mean, honestly, it's not like we have quality time always. It's not all cuddling and cookie baking! Sometimes my kids see me braless in the morning when I drive them to school. That can't be good. And I'm sure I get mad at them more than I would if I worked simply because I'm around them more. Then again, maybe if I worked I'd be tired and stressed out and I would get mad at them even more. Then again, I'm tired and stressed out by not "working." I like staying home and I would say that my stay-at-home-mom skills rate in the medium range. I don't plan enchanting treasure hunts for my kids but they don't have a mouthful of silver teeth, either. I'm fairly confident they would manage if I worked full time. But who knows--It's a quandary!
It's a quandary for the women on Secret Life of a Soccer Mom, too. When the kids watch the footage of their moms doing dream jobs (a flight nurse, for example) they really think it's awesome. They can't even believe it's their mom! Which is kind of sad but sort of cool and surely there are benefits to having your mom fly in a helicopter really awesomely. That same kid whose mom wanted to be a flight nurse started bawling when they were discussing the job offer. "I don't want you to go to work. . . I want you!" I know it sounds really sweet and it's a lovely compliment to his mother. Then again, he sort of seemed like a boob. It made me think that my kids must benefit from me being constantly available to them--but what if it just makes them self-centered boobs?
In the show I saw where the mom wanted to be a chef they actually discussed having the dad stay at home (I am both drawn to and repelled by these intimate discussions among families I don't know.) I was excited about that option because I think dads can do a great job in this capacity. Just look at Sweet Juniper . . . and other examples from real life (now what's this "real life" thing again? Oh. Yeah--not TV shows or internet. Gotcha.) But in the end the mom turned down the full-time chef job because it didn't pay as much as her husband's full-time set-dressing job. I guess that's his dream job?
The last thing I think about when I watch this show is that I don't really know what these moms are going through because as much as we have in common, reality shows are by their very nature self-selecting for extroverted freaks. There is not a single reality show I would ever try out for: not What Not to Wear, not Project Runway, not Clean Sweep or Top Model or Top Chef or Trading Spaces--not even for the free stuff. I think I can even say with some certainty (I've thought about this a lot, mind you!) that even if they approached me and begged me to do a reality show (like maybe about blogging or something) I would have to turn it down. So in the end I can't relate to these people, and that's interesting too.