My husband is a good provider. He has a sometimes exciting, always demanding job that he truly enjoys.
Our family is lucky that he has this opportunity; it has in many ways defined our life here in the city. To be certain, it has given us a life here in the city. Important to both my husband and me is that one of us be home with our children; we decided this before our first child was born. We are fortunate that I have been able to stay home these early years. I have gotten to share many moments of joy and discovery at home with my children.
Okay. The other side of the stay-at-home mom coin is this: it’s a really boring, frustrating, unglamorous, and identity-sucking lifestyle. And that’s most of the time. I am often looking for distractions to my life–online shopping (shout out to my peeps at J.Crew), wine, lots of television, some books. Eventually, I thought about starting a blog. That seemed like a more constructive use of my free time (that would be after the kids are asleep) than just trolling Facebook (because sometimes people on Facebook actually sleep). And I thought about the material I would write about: my kids… And all those other things I was involved with now, such as… Well, my kids.
Naturally, when a friend posted on Facebook that a national television show was looking for a New York City mom who hates her eyebrows to appear on an upcoming segment, I jumped at the chance! Who wouldn’t? (And damn you, eyebrows!)
I told my husband, family and friends that I was going to have my eyebrows scrutinized and plucked on national television (really–who wouldn’t?) because it would give me a great blog post (for the blog I was someday going to write). I went to the set that day sort of nervous, kind of excited, and ready for anything.
Obviously, it was a great day. I met a few of Rachael Ray’s viewers who had also volunteered for the segment (I have never seen “The Rachael Ray Show;” I had to fake this to fit in). I had my makeup and hair done. I talked show business with the producers. I smiled stiffly in front of a studio audience. I sat inappropriately close to Rachael Ray (who is really cute in person. Couldn’t you just guess she is?). I felt like I was living a life more fun and interesting than my own. And I had something to talk about for a few days.
So when the segment producer e-mailed me with the upcoming air date, I should have been amused, delighted, and looking forward to seeing myself on television, right?
I was filled with dread. During the time between taping that segment and learning when it would air, I had discovered some things about myself–what Oprah would call an “A-ha moment” (I think that’s what she says; I don’t watch “Oprah” either).
First: I have developed an obsession with the sitcoms of the fifties and sixties: “Leave It to Beaver,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “I Love Lucy.” I cannot get enough of these timeless examples of domestic life. Few sitcoms of our era can compare with these classics. I love the wives on these shows. Yes, they represent old fashioned, anti-feminist, stereotypical ideals of mothers and wives. I still like them. I think June Cleaver rocked; she got everything done around the house, cooked meals for her family, and was never in a bad mood. I still want to have coffee with Laura Petrie. And Lucy Ricardo–what can I say? I root for her every time. Funniest character ever. On the greatest show. Period.
And second, how this connects to my eyebrows (again, damn you, eyebrows!): I began having a very uneasy feeling about having appeared on national television to have my facial hair plucked by Rachael Ray’s best friend (who is also really cute despite having her visiting three month old on set). I had told everyone that I was subjecting myself to this for blog material. I told the segment producer that. It seemed reasonable. And then a feeling that started as a dull pain in my stomach made its way to my brain, and it hit me: I am the housewife desperate to share in her husband’s limelight. Oh Lucy, why won’t they put us in the show? By marrying, breeding, and not working, I have internalized quite a bit of those classic American sitcoms I so adore.
It is oddly liberating to have this knowledge–my insecurities about no longer having a career, an income, validation, and solo bathroom breaks are wound deeply into my being–as woman and mother. I saw an opportunity to chase a bit of excitement and I went for it. Opportunities outside of preschool, the playground, birthday parties and time-outs don’t really come my way anymore. Appearing on television for any reason–including hair removal–gave me a connection to a world outside of my own.
I liked the attention. Every so often, I need to hear the applause at the Tropicana. And there’s nothing wrong with that, Lucy.
note: Wendy writes the blog Mama One to Three. To read her blog, click here!