I’ve had some recent indiscretions; I’ve been watching multiple episodes (near seasons) of Weeds and Mad Men on my computer. All in one sitting. It’s been a a perfect retreat. While others are off camping in the mountains, I’ve been holed up, late at night staring at a screen. I’m not a big TV person, but watching the torrid lives of fictional families is good for some little piece of me.
Because of my recent over-consumption, I’ve been a little skewed, off kilter, and stuck between TV and real life. Fact: last Tuesday, I opened the door to a patient’s room and jumped (as in startled) when I thought one of my patients was a character out of Weeds (crazy resemblance). True, and scary, I know…Too much TV.
The great thing about all of this time spent sedentary is that the worse the parenting model I observe, the better and more relaxed I feel about my real life. These shows puts the, “Well my children are good listeners” type comments from other parents in perspective, especially while your child tantrums. And yes, this is why we watch television. To be off the hook, off duty, non-eligible. This working-our-butts-off-to-parent -as-perfectly-as-possible-while-earning-wages-to-save-extra-money-for-kids’-college-while-also-cleaning-and-grocery-shopping life, is Ex-haust-ing.
So I have turned to the boob tube. And have focused on two women, in particular: Betty Draper (now Betty Francis) and Nancy Botwin. They are both remarkably flawed. And they make no apologies. It’s wonderful.
Everything else I consume (online, in real life, in print, on the radio, in social media) tells me how I should aim to perfect parenting, as if there is actually a manual. When I step away from all the “help,” and watch these women do it wrong, I’m freed. Betty and Nancy provide a bona fide antidote to stress. Simply put, I feel better after watching these two mothers unabashedly do a terrible job. This isn’t reality TV (thank God); there’s no reckless real family with an uber-nanny in the corner lassoing the kids. The great thing is, these two women (and these two shows) spend no energy attempting to figure out what is right or what is wrong. They live their days, speak their mind, and survive. Thus, avoiding all the helicopter-type labels we are forced to try on.
If you watch Mad Men, or even if you don’t, the above video is sure to make you feel perfectly wonderful.
This Parenting, as seen on TV relaxes and reaffirms in a self-critical, categorical, parenting world. Betty and Nancy are sure to assuage our guilt. As one blogger says, “Betty Draper lives so we can feel good about our parenting sins.”