I Rue The Day I Created The Television Challenge. But Who Doesn’t Like A Good Rue?

This is the second post on my experience in the Hardcore Television Challenge.  The first week’s adventure can be found here.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought: This would be a GREAT time to watch television.

But Saturday morning my husband works. And my daughter decides that naptime would be a good time to SCREAM LIKE AN EXHAUSTED LUNATIC instead of sleep. My son wouldn’t come upstairs with me. And he couldn’t be trusted alone. He is into the GLUE. Then he spies his computer on top of the television cabinet. I WANT THAT. I hear it every five seconds. In between GLUE. And my daughter is now raging.

So I let him have it.

I set my alarm on my iPhone because I desperately want to lose track of time. But I have only twenty-five minutes of screen time left.

I rocked N down. I sigh. Then it dawns on me that I haven’t brushed my teeth, and my friend, C, would be at my house in thirty minutes. We’re good friend but not morning-breath good. (Although we are stay-in-my-pajamas-and-not-put-on-a-bra good.)

So I let E keep playing. And honestly? My phone alarm went off SO MUCH SOONER than it should’ve.

And now I’m on my own FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK.

By Wednesday afternoon, I feel like this:

Yes this photo is a reenactment. But if my children had been allowed to take pictures, this would've been on the roll.

I don’t know if E is just tired from his morning camp, but I feel like I spend all day getting yelled at.

Me: E, how do we ask for a snack?
E: Mama? May I please have a snack?
Me: Yes, you may. What a nice way of asking.
Me: E, how do we ask for something?

And on and on and on and on. And every ten minutes during his “quiet time.”

And N, while often smiley, is very, um, POINTY. THIS THIS THIS Actually UH UH UH. (It turns out uh-oh, mama, dada, dog, and cat don’t get you very far in this world.)

And I have to wake N up EVERY SINGLE MORNING to pick up E from camp. Do you know how it feels to wake up a sleeping child when you have SO MUCH TO DO AND NO TIME? THE SUCK.

And although these seem like normal everyday mama-hood experiences, I’m DROWNING.

I wonder if it’s having no OUT. No guarantee of peace. The television is a promise. E quiet and sitting still for an HOUR. Yes, he would still YELL out for a snack, but only once. And the threat of turning off the television is the GREATEST THREAT IN THE WORLD.

I’m tired of being present for my children. And that makes me want to cry. Because I don’t think that is about the television. I think that it’s about me. And how much easier it is to be me than to be Mama.

I’d rather fold into my world of writing and Twitter and phone calls and friends. Where there is less yelling and needing. More jokes. More pats on the back. More space.

My husband notices. And it is causing a rift. So in the midst of all this no TV vcrap, I offer to turn off my phone from 5:30-7:30 each night. Do you know how embarrassingly hard it was to even offer? And how much MORE difficult it is to keep?

Don’t worry. There is no iPhone challenge in the mix. But I am so unhappy that the television challenge has exposed me more than my children. They are fine. E hardly asks for television anymore. I’m the one ruing the day.

On a less rue-y note:

Thank you to The Mommies Network for reposted the Television Challenge!

And Corrina, who is also in the TV challenge, has kindly offered a fellow challenger a FREE BOOK OF HER CHOOSING from Barefoot Books! I’ll choose the winner at random on the final Thursday (July 29th). I know some of you have been participating but are not bloggers. You can still win the book! Please include a comment on the final post so I have your name to add to the drawing.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

15 thoughts to “I Rue The Day I Created The Television Challenge. But Who Doesn’t Like A Good Rue?”

  1. I haven’t had to make any promises, but only because my husband has worked late every night this week. But… I feel exposed too. Being Mama is tough. And being me is so rare these days. Even with TV.

  2. I’m really afraid to admit while I had every intention of doing the TV challenge I found out I was pregnant and that first trimester energy suck coupled with being alone with Gnome so much – well it just didn’t work. I probably have it down to no more then an hour a day – maybe 45 minutes on a good day but alas still more then 30 minutes. I just bought Kitchen-Table Play and Learn: Activities and Lessons for Building Your Preschooler’s Vital Developmental Skills which has helped limit TV time. I highly recommend it, it has tons of stuff you can do with E and still fun stuff N can play with. Really simple yet really fun activities that use common objects around the house.

    Thanks for doing the challenge. and for being so honest. You’re better then medications 😉

  3. BIG X (as in hug)!!!!!
    It’s okay to feel what you are feeling…It’s called being human.
    I’m impressed you are able to be so honest about it.
    Hang in there!!

  4. Reminds me of when the kids’ toys were stored away as punishment. Gosh, I could have written your post. Good luck with finishing the challenge and staying mommy present. I know it’s hard for me as well.

  5. I love your picture. Because I feel the same way. I finally got a shower at 3pm yesterday but I’m not even sure if I used soap. I’d take a picture like that – but would never post it.

    Thank you for starting the TV Challenge. I’m trying to come up with an equally painful Challenge for August – y’know paybacks and all. : )

  6. Well, first of all, I must tell you that you look pretty even when you are a “raving lunatic” and, that is not easy to carry off! So, kudos for that. And, secondly (I think that’s a word) You are
    smart and funny and “Dancing as fast as you can!”
    You are showing your kids about different emotions ( all quite
    human) and, hopefully can find time, without guilt, to do something just for you. You seem to have a support group here

  7. while i appreciate your honesty and i totally respect your intention to do what’s best for E and N, and to be fully present for them, i have to question whether what you’re going through is worth it. when i read this post, all i could think of is the wildly unrealistic expectations we heap on SAHMs today, and the radical difference between raising children in 21st century America vs. raising them almost anywhere and anytime else. As my friend often says, motherhood isn’t meant to be practiced in isolation–it’s meant to be practiced in the middle of a community of other women, who can instruct and help and relieve. your community is on the computer, and on twitter. it’s far from ideal–but it’s what you have. yes, it’s important to be present–but rare indeed is the human being who can be THAT present for THAT much of the day. you’ve said that you don’t like what happens to your kids when they watch TV, but i don’t think you specified, so maybe the behaviors associated with it are so objectionable that it really is something you have to limit so rigorously. but if you’re doing it because you feel that crushing social pressure not to let your kids watch TV (which i think we ALL feel, whether we allow it or not), or because you think you should be able to focus and interact every minute of every day, then i think you need to give yourself a break. yes, it’s important to give them focused time each day. yes, it’s better to rely on activities and outings than television to keep them occupied. but it’s also important–seriously, IMPORTANT–for mom to get a break. and if TV is the way that happens, then fuck all those people who say you shouldn’t use it. because when mom feels like a failure and a crazy person, no one wins.

  8. that was quite a comment! in retrospect i’m afraid it sounds more judgmental than i meant it to (which is not at all!). i just hate to see moms making themselves miserable trying to meet unrealistic expectations. that is so part and parcel of motherhood these days (and maybe always), and it’s so unfair. motherhood is hard enough even when you get what you need.

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