Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trading Spouses

One of the shows I like to watch in the afternoon is Trading Spouses. Just in case you haven't seen it, the basic premise of the show is they take a mom from one family and trade places with a mom from another family. They have to live with the new family for two weeks; the first week they have to follow the rules and routine of the new family and the second week the new mom gets to make new rules for the family to follow. To create television-worthy drama, the families selected for an episode are always stereotypical opposites. For example, a very clean and organized family trades with a messy and chaotic family, a farm family trades with a city family, a stay at home dad trades with a work-a-holic dad, etc. By the end of the show each family struggles to live with a person with different values and habits, but eventually everyone learns from each other. In a successful episode (in my opinion anyway) the families embrace something from the experience which betters their lives. Sometimes the switch is a disaster and nothing is achieved.

As I was cleaning up the kitchen today and watching an episode of Trading Spouses, I got to thinking "what if my family went on this show". What if when I was a kid, my mom traded spaces with someone else? Which stereotypical definition would be assigned to our family life? As sad as it is, I would have to say we would be the family where the mom does all the hard work, the kids basically do what they want, and the dad is the main disciplinarian. Don't get me wrong, we had Chore Saturday growing up, but my mom had to do a lot of nagging to get us to actually do our chores. I remember eating breakfast on Saturdays when dad would have a project in mind for the day. When we were finishing up our meal, with thoughts of barbies in our heads, dad would say, "go get your grubbies on and meet me outside". With those simple words, the attitude would come out so fast! Jackie would refuse to leave the table until she knew what we were in for. An argument would ensue between dad and Jackie; Jackie argued she couldn't put grubbies on until she knew what kind of work it was, and dad felt that the work didn't matter the grubbies were always the same. We would moan and groan, feeling that we were doomed for an entire day of boring, tedious work. We were sure our day was ruined. However, once we got over ourselves and put our attitudes away, we had a good time. Hanging out with dad and mom doing a project and working together outside turned into a great family bonding moment. With a family of six, everyone had to pitch in to make things work.

So if my family had to go on Trading Spouses, we would probably end up with a drill sergeant mom, or maybe a mom that never forced her kids to do anything they didn't want to. We may have had some elbow room with chores, but we did have to do them eventually. Maybe we would get a mom that forced us to act like little adults; making our own food, getting ourselves ready for school, etc. We were definitely allowed to be kids; running around outside, playing make-believe, just being carefree. I remember when we were little, in the summer time we would hate taking baths because it meant we would have to come inside earlier. So mom gave up the fight and told us if we ran through the sprinkler for a while we wouldn't have to take a bath. We thought it was great, while mom was probably tired of the fight and figured “oh well, at least they get rinsed”.

In the end, I'm glad we didn't go on Trading Spouses, my childhood was great. My family did the best they could, stuck together, and in the end we made it. No one is perfect; no one has all the answers. I would not change one thing about my family.

I love you all, just the way we are!!

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