Thursday, August 12, 2010

reality vs. reality

So, I found myself the other day watching one of those shows about "real" housewives. I catch myself watching them from time to time--never enough to know what the hell is going on, but often enough to fulfill my need to just hate on someone. And their hair alone sure makes it easy.

Then I started thinking--what if they made a show about the "real" moms of Autism? Not the celebrity moms who have almost all avenues open to them, but the REAL moms--you know the ones. The frazzled, haven't worn make-up in a year, tired of eating gluten free pasta, wishing she could just put in earplugs at some point in the day, and definitely 2 cocktails short? Yeah, her. What would THAT show look like?

I've noticed these shows break down into the following kinds of episodes:

Dinner parties:

A lot of us have adopted special diets for our kids. Evidence has shown that it does help some kids (I think I saw a doctor say about 50%--which makes it a pain to try, but also a necessity). So our dinner parties would have to be a gluten-free, nutless potluck--hardly Real Housewives material. There might (read WILL) be recipe swapping, especially if Bertha brought a gluten free dish that actually tastes good and the kids haven't resorted to creating giraffe-based murals on the walls with it. This would also be an effort to get our kids to socialize, which they may or may not do. But they will eye one another suspiciously, and perhaps take a moment to try the black-bean-and-beet hummus with homemade pita chips. Or maybe it's the hummus they're eying suspiciously. I know I am. It looks a little like a lumpy bowl of Steve Buscemi.


In our world these are referred to as playdates. Again, an attempt to force socialization. Because even if they won't talk to one another, they have to learn to be next to one another without throwing punches. It's the precursor to developing "personal space." Something we all have to learn--like the asshat at the bar standing a "tad" too close to you and NOT picking up on the body language and verbal clues that you would rather he take a hike into traffic than tell you about his pet iguana and its crazy lettuce-eating antics.

By the way, never feed an iguana lettuce. At least not sober. Ya gotta get the iguana drunk first. Rookie mistake.


So instead of hitting Rodeo Drive or whatnot, this would be an episode of how we get the errands run with our kids in tow. Keeping them occupied in the cart; keeping their hands off of EVERY item within their reach; listening to their whines, your whines, and the people around you's whine, while you try to shop for your own wine; coping with the meltdown just as you get to the checkout stand--this close to escaping--and having to see every dirty look and "harrumph" from the old biddies around you. Luckily though, the screaming tends to drown out any comments, and the biddies are easily distracted by the haunting fluorescent light shining off of the tabloids that steer their "family values."


This usually accompanies the Outings episode. It's what we're doing when we're chillin' on the side of the playground while our kids get busy eating sand or obsessively going down the slide. Usually about whose marriage is on the rocks, what some old biddy said to us while we were shopping, how much a particular therapy or treatment costs, or the latest crazy antics of our child in public.

Of course that's just the venting stuff. It's also where we share the milestones met, and the little things that may not mean much to the Typical moms, but mean the world to us. The kids of events, like your kid saying "I love you" or giving you a spontaneous hug, that require around of cocktails and a few handkerchiefs.


Hmmm. I suppose any time you get a bunch of women together, one of these is bound to occur. Although I'm not sure what we'd fight about? Vaccine causality vs. genetics? DAN! vs. ABA? Being a "everything is rainbows and puppies" kind of mom vs. "pass me the vodka"? Sounds like my kind of fight - the kind I can win, as I am well-armed with tiny, plastic cocktail swords in 4 colors.


I don't know what kind of man we'd be trying to steal, unless it was someone's therapist or doctor.

"I heard she was taking her son to him, but she just doesn't appreciate what he's trying to do!"
"Why does SHE get the good therapist?"
"If he would only see my son for a few minutes, I know it would change everything!"

Because, let's face it ladies--we are too exhausted to be spending our time trying to make time with someone else's husband. We barely have time for our own--why would we want ANOTHER one?


Inevitably someone on these shows needs help in some way to get themselves out of the whorish--I mean selfish--I mean, oh hell--situations in which they find themselves. An intervention with the Autism moms would probably sound like this:

"Bertha--we're here to help. No--put down that damn gluten-free pasta and listen. You need to take a break. You're making us all crazy. Your son has Autism. It's not the end of the world. And he hates that pasta--we all do. Stop trying to be the perfect mom, and just be a mom. Your son will appreciate it more if you play with him more and see the world from his point of view. By all means, keep trying new things and trying to improve his situation as best you can. But remember--you have to take care of yourself too. Have a spa day. On us. But just this once, mind you. We're trying to maintain our sanity here too, so chill out, or I'll leave a bag of soiled diapers in your Lexus SUV."

In the end, it probably wouldn't be a very entertaining show because, well, it's just day to day living. We don't live for the camera, so it wouldn't always be a flattering light. We're not as skinny and made-up as those "real" women: we don't always have time to get put together. We're too busy parenting--which is something I notice those "real" women don't seem to do much. Maybe it's why we like to watch them--to think "at least I'm not that bitch." Or at least a glorious moment to think, "My kid has better manners than most Orange County housewives. I guess I've earned another drink."