I have this little secret... well, it isn't much of a secret. I have a thing about reality TV - most of it annoys the crud out of me. But I have a certain type of reality show that I can't seem to stop watching.
Reality TV mom shows. Primarily Dance Moms and Wife Swap.
I forget how I got started on Dance Moms and it makes no sense to me that I keep watching it. It's the exact same thing week after week after week. Abby yells at the kids, Abby yells at the moms. The moms complain to each other and to the camera. The girls seem to know about the drama but really don't care. The moms turn on each other or gang up against one. They go to a competition - Cathy is there and everyone goes insane. They win big or lose. It's completely formulaic at this point. But I watch every single week.
I've even joked to a friend that we should all start using Abby's Pyramid in our homes.
"Alright, family! Let's see how we stack up in the pyramid this week! Bottom of the pyramid - Teagan! Your meltdowns and tantrums last week just can't keep happening. If you want to make it to the top, you'd better get your act together. Next up on the pyramid - Zach! You did better last week and that's why you moved to the middle. But you can't be at the top because you're really struggling with listening and following directions. And at the top? Daddy! You keep working on that bathroom, picking up kids from school, doing dishes, and sending me loving text messages. You're a star!!"
My recent fascination is the return of Wife Swap.
I watch it and feel better about myself as a mom and wife. Seriously.
I know my home is cluttered and I know we get behind on laundry or dishes or bathroom cleaning. But it does get done.
If I'm feeling guilty about it? I guarantee I can find an episode of Wife Swap where the family home is really bad - like rotten food on the counters and dog poo in the corners and ripped up furniture kind of bad. I see that and see that the family is happy and loving and I don't feel so bad about our clutter and dust.
I know I can yell at my kids more than I care to even admit.
Feeling bad about being a yeller? I can find an episode of Wife Swap where a parent only communicates by yelling and includes a lot of put downs in there yelling - not just a raised voice to get attention.
And what that boils down to, really, is that shows like Wife Swap really perpetuate Mommy Wars. Because it's designed to force us to compare ourselves as wives and mothers to other wives and mothers. It's designed to make us compare our kids to their kids. Wife Swap capitalizes on the age old Mommy War debates - breastfeeding vs formula feeding, disposable vs cloth diapers, homemade vs store bought baby food, homeschooling vs private school vs public school, working moms vs stay at home moms, and so much more.
Our differences don't have to be reasons for battle. Our differences can really just be celebrated. As long as a child isn't being damaged, how someone else chooses to raise their kids is really none of my business. In fact, I can probably learn something form them.
And maybe that's where the idea for Wife Swap really started. Maybe it was originally intended to be an opportunity for different people to experience a lifestyle opposite of their own. But is that is the intention, I'd want there to be input from each side about what type of family they want to go and learn from instead of secretly whisking the wife away and plunking her into an environment that is so polar opposite of her own that she is going to almost be forced to hate it.
But I can't seem to stop watching it. Because there are moments where I feel better about my own parenting, my own housekeeping, my own choices. Because I am fascinated by the choices other people make for their families. Because it really is entertaining.
I'm never going to be on a reality show. But it is interesting to think of what kind of family they would plunk me into. Maybe they could force me to change places with Kelly or Holly on Dance Moms...