Since becoming a stay-at-home again, I have had to make a lot of adjustments. My self-esteem took a hit, my financial situation took a hit and my schedule took a hit. I am actually busier now than I was when I was working. The major difference (aside from the aforementioned hits), is that now I get to watch TV between chores.
We gave up cable years ago and dedicated ourselves to Netflix, but recently friends gave us rabbit ears so we can get a few channels. It's enough.
I had a little routine for my daytime watching, saving all the Netflix business for when Tom gets home. In case you're interested, my days looked something like this: Local News, My Three Sons, Donna Reed, That Girl, I Love Lucy, Leave It To Beaver, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper, Local News, Days of Our Lives, The Talk, Katie, Ellen DeGeneres. It's not like I watch all of those shows straight through every day -- I don't. Ever. But that's the schedule. That's what's on when I'm home. And to continue to be clear -- just because it's on, doesn't mean I'm sitting passively watching it. I do knock out a chore or two throughout the day. And when I AM sitting, I'm knitting. And you know what? I don't have to defend myself to you. It's not like every minute of your every day is filled to the brim with scholarly pursuits. If it was, you wouldn't be reading this.
Most of it is just background noise, but I almost always sat down and attended to My Three Sons and Donna Reed. My Three Sons is an old favorite, so there's a nostalgia factor, but there's more to it than that. First of all, like me, Ernie is adopted. Just like in real life, this is totally not a big deal. It is not ignored, but neither is it emphasized. It just is. I love that. But Ernie isn't my favorite, oh no. Like a good parent, I like all of the sons equally. The sons are not without their charm, but that Steve Douglas... Now there's a man worth watching. What I love the most about his character is his ability to put everyone he encounters at ease. Sometimes he does it with a little twinkle in his eye, but he always does it. He is my parenting role model. He allows the boys to make their mistakes and pay the consequences in a spirit of gentle lovingness. He is the Mister Rogers of TV fathers. I want to be the sort of parent and friend that Steve Douglas is. I'm not. But I really want to.
And speaking of role models -- next on my viewing agenda is the venerable Donna Reed. I have never watched Donna Reed before. It was a little before my time when it was first run and I always sort of thought of it like a Leave It To Beaver sort of sappy salute to a perfect time that didn't really exist. I thought she was the quintessential submissive housewife and I really wanted no part of it. What a happy surprise it has been to discover that I was wrong.
Of course ALL of the sitcoms mentioned also give me the added bonus of teaching me a valuable social lesson every day. Thanks to my viewing habits, I now know that it's wrong to lie to or manipulate or use people. I know that family is more important than money. And, thanks to Lucy and Donna and June I know that just because I'm unemployed doesn't mean I can't wear a nice new fit-and-flare dress and fix my hair. Even if Ricky -- I mean, Tom -- thinks I already have enough dresses.
So this morning, after dropping Liv off at school, I hurried home to pour my coffee and enjoy my daily dose of gentle wholesomeness with Steve and his boys.
I was not pleased when the familiar instrumental did not involve three animated sets of shoes tapping their toes and junk. MeTV had changed their schedule without consulting me, which seems rude, since they have Me right in their name. Family Affair is not the same. It's not even a good substitute. Now, if I want to spend a half hour feeling reassured by Fred MacMurray, I'll have to do it at 5:30. Which is, I suppose, a more pleasant way to wake up than the Local News. I'll adjust, but I won't be happy about it.
I looked into the rest of the changes -- I Love Lucy has been subbed out for The Lucy Show, which is NOT the same thing.
I adjusted to staying at home and to a new normal. Fine. But now I have to adjust my TV viewing habit, too? Enough.
Uncle Bill is no Steve Douglas.
Mr. French is no Uncle Charley.
And I? Am crying uncle.