The stereotypical housewife of my youth was an avid Soap Opera watcher, or so I heard. Even my own mom, before she went back to school and work, watched at least a couple hours of those superbly written, wonderfully acted, not-at-all-melodramatic dramas daily. And yet now, as I stay home with my kids, anxious to waste away the day folding laundry and enjoying the same episode of SportsCenter for the sixth time, I want simply to ask them: how did you do it?
As it is, I rarely find myself in front of the television. I chase kids around all day. I solve crises. I make peanut butter sandwiches, peel bananas, rip the foil lids off plastic yogurt containers, pick up spilled Cheerios, and wipe baby food off faces and hands and feet (that's right, I said feet). I play with Barbie dolls in Smartypants' bedroom (yes, she plays with me. if not, I'd make sure she had more transformers and legos and GI Joe's), and I bounce Smiley baby on my knee in front of the computer, because she loves to dance to music. When I'm lucky, I get to read my e-mail or the news online. And, if by some odd chance, I get to sit on the couch for a break, I'll be forced to watch Dora The Explorer or The Little Mermaid for the billionth time. Even if I wanted to, and made time to, Smartypants wouldn't allow me to watch soap operas.
However, on those rare occasions when I do get to watch my own program, I generally opt for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that I Tivo'd the night before. It will take, on average, 73 minutes to watch that 22 minute show. I pause for questions, I pause for potty training, I pause for babies hanging on the gate by the stairs, throwing themselves against it as though trying to break through the steel bars of a prison cell. How dare I not let a ten-month-old climb the stairs! If she could speak, she'd tell me, "But I'm not a baby anymore, Daddy." And I would smile, and I would tell her, "Not until you're Two, young lady." At this very moment, I'm certain, she's planning her revenge.
So, while my question might once have been, "Why do you watch those pathetic, awful soap operas?", it is now, "How do you find the time to watch those pathetic, awful soap operas?" What about the distractions? What about the emergencies? What about that desire to accomplish something meaningful during your day? Because once upon a time, or so I've heard, there was no such thing as Tivo, and yet people found a way. So what's the deal?
Anyone care to divulge a few secrets, because obviously I'm missing something?
(Oh yeah! Happy Valentine's Day!)
This post was originally shared on my at-home parenting blog, The Daily Writer, which has long since vanished. I’ve migrated many of the posts to this site for sentimental reasons.