I was watching Real Housewives of Orange County the other day (no judging, folks; even Einstein liked to unwind with a little pop culture now and again) (which fact I just totally made up, but whatevs, it’s the internet, people; if you’re looking for unassailable integrity, then go look something up in the Oxford English Dictionary) (I mean the real one that weighs forty-eleven pounds and has to be read with a magnifying glass, not the punk-ass on-line version) (but I digress). ANYWAY, before I so rudely interrupted myself, I was sharing that I was spending some time when I realized that I actually have something in common with one of the OC Housewives. What could that be, you ask? Is it Gretchen Rossi's affinity for Botox? Lydia Whatserface's obsession with flower-child headbands? Vicki Gunvalson's age??? No, HELL no, and shut up, I'm at least fifteen ten five years younger than Vicki. Much to my surprise, the housewife whose existence most closely mirrors mine is …. Heather Dubrow.
I know! I’m surprised, too! Aside from the fact that we’re both brunette, what could we possibly share in common? I possess neither an Italianate marble mansion, nor an obscenely large, knuckle-busting diamond engagement ring. Sadly, I share neither her affinity for tight-fitting sheath dresses in size 2, nor her predilection for sleek, congenitally frizz-free hair. So what could it be?
Well, a little scene-setting is in order here. I’ve been catching up on the most recent season of RHOC, and in the most recent episode I viewed, the Dubrows ferried all four of their offspring to a restaurant on a school night, no less, in hopes of procuring a nice, relaxing dinner – to which I have to say, that is a rank amateur move, taking your kids anywhere outside the house during the dinner hour and hoping to have a peaceful time; if that’s your goal, you’re far better off making the kids boxed mac’n’cheese and sticking them in front of a move while your spouse brings home gourmet takeout, but that’s just my opinion. Anyway, as the cameras were filming the discussion between Heather and her husband, Terry, I saw an expression on Heather’s face that I recognized as one I’ve seen in my own mirror on many a day – the pinch-faced, tight-lipped, steely-eyed mug of The Mother Who Has Had Enough.
So, who knew?? Apparently, it’s possible to get fed up with child rearing even if you do have the wherewithal to hire a full-time housekeeper, a personal assistant, and a fleet of nannies. Watching the dynamics of the Dubrow house, I saw a certain similarity between their family setup and the famille Pig, namely, that the chief breadwinner lives the life of Riley has control over his own schedule and the chief child-care organizer is at the mercy of everyone else's schedules. When Heather asked Terry (through clenched teeth) if he please could consider maybe possibly coming home right after work instead of going to the gym to work out first, I could fill in the narrative running through her mind myself, because it's the same one I've had before: "Gee, I'd LOVE to be able to just 'stop by the gym' any time *I* wanted to go, but SOMEBODY has to be home to deal with kids. I guess it doesn't matter if *I* haven't worked out for three days straight as long as one of us gets to maintain his gym schedule. Good thing I couldn't use a couple of hours outside these four walls after dealing with the kids all day by myself," and so forth and so on.
This brought to mind an event that perfectly encapsulates the way life runs chez Pig. Earlier this year, I got a chance to present at a conference for middle school teachers that was two states away from The First In the Nation Primary State. This required going away overnight - to a HOTEL no less! Without kids!! Or dog!! Or husband!!! Or family members or familial responsibility of any kind!!! It was like Christmas, my birthday, and a three-day weekend, all rolled into one. I put this momentous occasion in the family calendar in capital letters and worked reminders into spousal conversations as frequently as possible: "That's right around the week I'm going away, remember," or, "gee, I think I'm going out of town right about then." During one of our semi-regular heart-to-heart convos, I remember saying, "The thing I'm most looking forward to is walking out of the house and letting someone else be responsible for the day-to-day stuff, just for two days."
You can see where this is going, can't you?
Three weeks before my eagerly-awaited 48 hour hiatus from real life, Warren casually mentioned that, hey, he'd been asked by the big boss to go to a conference in Vegas or something, he'd let me know. He goes away often enough that this news didn't really register until I mentally started reviewing dates on the calendar and comparing them to what he was telling me and WHOA HEY HOLD UP A MINUTE THERE WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE FIRST WEEK OF APRIL??? I'M GOING AWAY THE FIRST WEEK OF APRIL!!! REMEMBER? MY TURN?? FORTY-EIGHT HOURS??? NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR FAMILIAL DUTIES????? I GET TO WALK OUT THE DOOR AND YOU GET TO FIGURE THINGS OUT FOR A CHANGE?
So short story long, Warren waltzed out the door left early Tuesday morning for Vegas, having done nothing more strenuous than ask his mother to please come take care of the girls, and I left on Wednesday, having spent the previous 72 hours in a frantic rush of setting up schedules, planning meals, cataloguing schedules, arranging coverage, AS WELL AS doing all the lesson planning and substitute teacher prep that goes along with a two-day absence from school. By the time we finally got to the conference on Wednesday night, I was more stressed out than I would have been if I just had stayed home in the first place.
To say I was annoyed is an understatement, along the lines of saying that Niagara Falls is a water feature. I was incensed. My ONE chance to see what it's like to come and go at my own convenience, to have family life tailored to my needs and not the other way around, to put aside responsibility for every minute of the girls' day, gone. Because the boss' boss thought it would be a good idea to send Warren somewhere else. Even writing this makes my blood boil all over again - I'm not sure the keys of my keyboard will ever recover from the pounding they're getting as I relive my righteous indignation. So when Heather Dubrow asked Terry to please just take the baby for a little while, or get home in time to help with homework and bedtime, or do any of the other million and one time-sucking, energy-draining, but ultimately necessary tasks that parenting involves, and his response was to brush it off/make a joke/fail epically and turn it back over to her, well, I knew exactly how she felt. Let me tell you, she was my sista from anotha motha at that point. I had her back. She was my homeslice. Solidarność and all that. Of course, if I sat down and really thought about the differences between her existence and mine, well, I might not feel so much sisters-under-the-skin, but we'll let that go for now. Besides, maybe someday I'll get to learn how it feels to have a bathroom/sitting room/dressing room suite that's bigger than my current house, and then I'll really understand her suffering.