My husband is a good provider. He has a sometimes exciting, always demanding job that he truly enjoys. Our family is lucky–and he and I are grateful–he has this opportunity because 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 past three and one-half 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. Writing a blog seems like a more constructive use of my free time than trolling Facebook (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Naturally, when a friend posted on Facebook (this was before I was writing my blog) that a national television show was looking for a NYC mom who hates her eyebrows to appear on an upcoming segment, I jumped at the chance! Who wouldn’t?
I told my husband, family and friends that I was going to have my eyebrows scrutinized and plucked on national television (again, who wouldn’t?) because it would give me a great blog post (I was thinking about my blog, just not writing it). I went to the set that day sort of nervous, kind of excited and ready for anything.
Overall, it was a fun 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 in front of a studio audience. I sat inappropriately close to Rachael Ray (who is so cute in person). 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 and looking forward to seeing myself on television, right?
(This is me without makeup by the way; the made up version is better. See picture and link at end of post.)
I was filled with dread. During the time between taping that segment and learning when it would air, I had discovered something 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 for the domestic sitcoms of the fifties and sixties: Leave It to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy. I cannot get enough of these shows. Few sitcoms can compare with these classics. I love the wives on these shows. Yes, they represent old fashioned, anti-feminist, stereotypical ideals of mothers and women. 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 be Laura Petrie. And Lucy Ricardo–what can I say? I root for her every time. Funniest character ever. Best show. Period.
Why this is relevant: I began having a very uneasy feeling about having appeared on national television to have my eyebrows plucked by Rachael Ray’s best friend (who is also really cute). 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? I have internalized quite a bit of the classic American sitcom.
Ironically, it is 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. 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.