My Life Is A Reality Show

Reality show material?

Today’s prompt in the National Health Blog Post Month invites writers to describe why their lives might resemble a reality show. To be honest, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine my life as a reality show, especially when you consider the kind of stuff they’re putting on TV these days. They have everything from teen pregnancy to Mafia ex-wives to pig hunting to people getting simple trivia questions horribly wrong as they attempt to not have their cars repossessed. Several months ago, there was a show – an entire hour-long time-slot – devoted to a discussion about cricket poo.

I’m not even kidding.

Something tells me that a show about my life would be infinitely more entertaining than a show about cricket poo, and if people were watching that, then my show would be an absolute hit.

Let’s take a look at the cast of characters:

The Autie

Like many kids with autism, George is a complex little fella, seemingly full of contradictions. At nine, he still needs hand-on-hand assistance to brush his teeth, and yet he would probably be able to assemble a computer in three seconds flat, reminiscent of that scene in Forrest Gump where Forrest put a rifle together in record time. George has meltdowns when you least expect it, and at times when you just know there’s going to trouble, he is the picture of serenity. Every good show needs a dose of intrigue, and with George there is plenty of that.

There is also a feel-good element in watching George. Every day the kid comes out with some action or some little phrase that demonstrates the trajectory of his learning. Anyone watching would surely celebrate every little accomplishment.

The Hyperactive Neurotypical Kid

What would a reality show be without a hefty dose of drama? With James, there is plenty of that. So much that we have to be on guard against Shakespearean troupes taking him away to be in theatrical productions. He has strong opinions, and a strong sense of what he perceives to be justice, and he’s not afraid to express that.  When I tell him to put on his pyjamas, he cries bitterly and says I’m ruining his life. He threatens to run away and says he’ll never hug me again.

Five minutes later he always hugs me. Because as much as he is a drama queen, James has a big heart and a generous spirit. Only the most hard-hearted soul would not feel utterly moved at the sight of James comforting his brother.

Besides, the kid has an imagination second to none. His mind takes him to all kinds of places, and sometimes, when he feels like telling a story, he takes the rest of us right along with him.

The Dad

My husband is so weird, he could have a reality TV show all to himself. I mean, he once deliberately got into the shower with all his clothes on. He says things that sound offensive but are actually hilarious. Like the time he said my hair makes me look like Gene Simmons, or the time he said the lunch I had made him looked like gorilla puke. He has a whacky sense of humour that would have the viewers rolling on the floor with laughter.

He would also have the female viewers swooning with his sense of romance. This is a man who approached a complete stranger in a park and told her she had beautiful eyes, who many years later proposed to that same woman in a grand gesture at her citizenship ceremony. When I was in Winnipeg on business years ago, he sent me a singer. A guy with a guitar showed up at my hotel room, and sang me a song while my husband was on the other end of the phone line.

The Mom

If it’s suspense you want, I’m your girl. I’m the one who’s always rushing around in a tearing hurry, trying to complete about 37 tasks all at the same time. I juggle so much at any given time that it’s anyone guess which one I’ll drop and what the consequences will be. Viewers will watch in slight bafflement as I take multitasking to a whole new level, and they will not be able to help sniggering as my exhaustion makes me do stupid things, like put lipstick on my lashes and mascara on my lips.

Here’s the thing, though: I may have a  lot on my plate, like special needs parenting, distance running, a full-time job, commuting, the husband’s business – but I’m happy. Yes, I have my issues with depression and anxiety (which could also have a show all of their own), but I have this weird and wonderful family to keep me going.

The Set

The reality show would be filmed in my own home, and I wouldn’t be obsessively cleaning up and putting things away before the camera crew came. This is supposed to be reality, so it would have to include the ever-growing piles of paper on my desk, and the Lego all over the floor, and the discarded clothes lying around, that I swear reproduce when I’m not looking. Viewers would get a glimpse of my kitchen sink that’s always full of dishes no matter how much cleaning up I do, the holes in the drywall from where George has banged his head during meltdowns, and the unruly pile of shoes and coats by the front door.

So I have a cast and a set, and the plot is built-in to the fabric of our daily lives.

All that’s missing is a title.


The First Date That Never Ended

I am participating in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, in which I publish a post every day for the month of April, based on health-related prompts.

April 28 – The first time I…: Write a post about the first time you did something. What is it? What was it like? What did you learn from it?

The first time I took a man home with me on the very first date, I ended up marrying him. Not on the same day, of course – the marrying part took about ten years. But right away, I just knew that this was the man I wanted to be with forever.

The beginning of our romance had a whirlwind quality to it, much like a fairytale romance. The fairytale began the moment we first laid eyes on each other.

It was a balmy afternoon late in the summer, and I was sitting on a rock in the park trying to bring my life into perspective. I was reeling from a recent ugly breakup: the man I had been dating for six months had conveniently neglected to mention that he was married. I was feeling depressed, lonely, and utterly foolish.

Something made me look up, and I saw a man heading towards me. I had never seen him before, but he walking in my direction with purpose, as if he knew me. I wondered if he had mistaken me for someone else. He sat down beside me, gazed at me for a few seconds, and then said, “You have beautiful eyes.”

I looked at this man and saw a whole new future open up before me. We stood up, and hand in hand, we went for a walk through the park.We found ourselves on the patio of a restaurant, eating, drinking wine, and sharing our life stories with each other.

It was perfect, that first date. When I let him come home with me that night, it was simply because neither of us wanted the date to end.

Although almost eleven years have passed since that night – eleven years that have seen many trials and tribulations, many joys, the births of our two beautiful children, tons of parenting adventures and our introduction to the world of special needs parenting,  and eventually, our wedding, neither of us feels that the first date ever really ended.

(Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle)


Valentines Day Survival Tips For Men

I think I can honestly say that yesterday was the first Valentines Day in my adult life that I completely failed to care about. Sure, in the past I’ve always said the same stuff everyone else does. Valentines Day is over-rated and over-commercialized. Valentines Day is an excuse for Hallmark and flower shops to make a killing. People shouldn’t need a designated day to show their love for each other.

Blah blah blah.

See, even though all of that stuff is true, the fact is that I am a woman and a hopeless romantic. I’ve always cared about Valentines Day just a little – either because I was lonely and hated seeing all the couply crap surrounding me, or because I was in a relationship with someone who didn’t do anything special, or because I was in a relationship with someone I didn’t want to be in a relationship with, or – well, you get the picture.

I have had some nice Valentines Days. The best ones were in the early years of my relationship with Gerard, when he was still trying to get the girl. Now that he’s got the girl, he has stated his views on Valentines Day, which are pretty much a repeat of the above.

To his credit, though, Gerard does romantic stuff for me on non-Valentines Days. I get lovely little surprises when I least expect it. Sometimes, I even get lovely amazingly big surprises when I least expect it (when you click on the link, go to about 4:00 on the video and watch from there).

This year I didn’t care about Valentines Day simply because I had other stuff on my mind. Stuff like the entire family just recovering from a vicious bug that put my youngest in hospital and took out half of his daycare for a week. I completely failed to register that Valentines Day was even happening until I opened my Facebook page yesterday morning.

Next year I’ll probably care again. It will be my first Valentines Day as a lawfully married woman. Surely I’ll be entitled to something.

Anyway, I wanted to offer something to all of the fellas out there who find themselves in the metaphorical dog-box today, having messed up Valentines Day yesterday. Here, based on my experiences as a romantically inclined woman (read: woman like most other women), are ten Valentines Day Survival Tips.

  1. The woman in your life will say all the same crap I do about Valentines Day, but she doesn’t mean it. She does care, and she would like some special recognition on the day.
  2. When you’re wishing her a Happy Valentines Day, tenderly say her name and gaze lovingly into her eyes.
  3. Those things you usually look at are not her eyes. You want to look about six inches north of there.
  4. When women say they do not expect anything for Valentines Day, they really do. You don’t have to spend lots of money (unless you’re dating Ivana Trump or Paris Hilton) – get her something thoughtful, like flowers.
  5. Nothing says “I love you” like voluntarily washing the dishes or doing some other household chore that the woman usually does (doing this will virtually guarantee great sex, especially if the woman is an overtaxed, overwhelmed Mom).
  6. Men who can cook a romantic dinner are irresistibly sexy. If you cannot cook, you have a year to learn.
  7. If you are having a romantic dinner at a restaurant, do not – I repeat, do NOT – start replying to emails on your BlackBerry while you’re supposed to talking to her.
  8. If you break rule #7 and she calls you on it, saying “I was just checking my Facebook” will not make it better.
  9. If she wants to spend time with you in the hot tub and she starts arranging tea-lights in the bathroom, saying “Candles are stupid” might ruin the mood.
  10. Valentines Day does not exist so you can have sex. It exists as a special day for you to express your love for the woman in your life. If you follow the previous nine steps, the sex will happen. Saying “Happy Valentines Day, let’s have a shag” might be counterproductive.