Hello, My name is Deanna and I’m a whore, a TV whore. Not sure about you but I love TV. Idiot box, boob tube, TV, flat screen, HDTV, a 13 inch with rabbit ears, TV’s in Sears, whatever you call it, wherever it is and whatever it looks like, I LOVE TV. My husband loves TV, my kids love TV, we are a TV family. It’s actually a problem in my house, we are constantly late because when the boob tube is on I’m in a TV trance and can’t do a thing. My attention will be so wrapped up in Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives that I forget anything and everything that has to get done up to and including at times my own name.
Watching TV and reading are my two favorite ways to relax, sometimes I do it simultaneously, ‘cause I’m cool like that, multi-tasking is my middle name, well my middle name is Fanny, yes my middle name is Fanny, but that’s a story for another time. In my house, we are all TV-aholics; it’s not bad that my five-year old is addicted to Animal Planet… is it? At least it’s not crack; now that would be a real problem.
Before kids I watched almost anything –crime dramas, comedies, nightly news, family dramas, and teenybopper shows, CNN, whatever. I loved flipping through the channels and being lulled into an alternate reality. A reality where everyone was either funnier, smarter and cooler than me, sometimes in more danger than me, or a bunch of dumb asses that were trying to beat each other by eating worms and other disgusting things for a million dollars.
TV is an escape, some people take baths I luxuriate in the silky glow of my television set. After I had children, especially the first one, I needed an escape. I needed to be entertained during the nursing marathons. I was sleep deprived, like all new moms, and there was nothing else to do but watch TV especially during the 2:00 a.m. feeding. Like Manhattan, the city that never sleeps, either does TV land. There was always something on even if it was infomercial. While nursing, I had my little set-up; a coffee table was next to me with the phone, my snack, water, the clicker (always within an arm’s length) and my notebook. Notebook, you ask? Well, I was a lunatic and wrote down which side the baby was nursing on and for how long – with EVERY feeding. I was obsessive, incredibly anal, and I’m a Virgo, which anyone can tell you, especially my family and friends, that is a Molotov cocktail.
Anyway, after kids I navigated toward reality TV and talk shows only. They helped me cope with the fact that I was the new mom that wasn’t equipped with that maternal instinct. I felt lost and after I gave birth any logic I may have possessed flew the coop. My sisters, best friends and mom were on a constant phone rotation – I could call with any insane thought, feeling, question at any moment. It was as if I was contestant on Millionaire and was using my dial-a-friend option. I am so not kidding, one time – my sweet little peanut had finally taken a normal newborn nap – the first three-hour nap of his little life. Any other mom would of been ecstatic and I should have too since – all my thoughts, conversations, dreams were about this little bugger finally sleeping more than two hours at a time, but instead of enjoying the nap I went to that crazy place. How the hell could he be sleeping, he doesn’t do this? Richie never takes a nap, let alone a three-hour one. Something HAS got to be wrong. So I use my dial-a-friend, and this is what occurred:
Me: “Hey, _____, it’s me, Dee, yea, um, Richie slept for like three hours today, I know, I know, fantastic, but when he was sleeping he kept on making these really weird noises, he sounded like he was choking on, like popcorn, ya know when you get that kernel stuck in your throat, no he didn’t eat popcorn, he’s three months old c’mon! But really it was like a “grrrrrllll, grrrllllll” sound and I could totally tell that his eyes were rolling back into his head, could it be a seizure? No, his eyes were closed, maybe a brain tumor?“. Sister/Mom/Friend: “Deanna, babies make noises when they sleep, (and if it was my sister Stephanie, she would go into all about REM sleep, and all that crap that at that time I needed to hear), probably not a brain tumor”. Me: “Oh, oh, okay, great, I won’t call the doctor, talk to you later.” Ya get it? Thank God my mom cooked for us for over three (3) months, and my mother-in-law did the babies laundry for about six (6) months I was so overwhelmed, over tired, over wrought and whatever else I could be over, that I couldn’t function normally.
Real life was too much for me and strangely reality TV calmed me down. Why? Because every one of those shows enabled me to see the freak in all these other people. These people made me feel normal, these outrageously insane people helped me feel like I was sane on the Richter scale when in reality I was trapped in a tiny apartment with a newborn that didn’t sleep. My boobs were engorged, I felt like an inadequate mom, if I did venture out (to my mom’s – like five minutes away) it took me two hours to prepare and get out of the house. I didn’t have to think about a thing when I watched reality TV that was the real beauty. It was reality TV or the loony bin. And like Nanny said to my sister Andrea (in regard to my sister not watching any reality TV) “You ain’t living” – if she wasn’t living then baby, I was living it up!
Fast forward a few years later, another baby in the mix, 8 ½ years of marriage and my reality TV habit is a thing of the past, well sort of. I still have a few staple shows that I watch, but these are the real high quality ones (BAAH is there really a difference? I like to think so, but remember it’s me, I could be pulling the wool over my own eyes!), my point – I don’t use reality TV as a coping skill anymore. I can actually deal with relative ease that there is crayon on the walls, naked babies running circles around the house at top speed, and the five year old peeing all over the toilet seat because he wanted to make designs, so that’s good. We still watch too much TV but does it matter that we are watching Animal Planet vs. countless hours of Boomerang? Or am I deluding myself into believing that because it’s the “good stuff” it’s okay. Is it really appropriate for a five year old to watch a lion tear apart an antelope? Things that make you go hmmm….