My latest television obsession is The Week the Women Went. I stumbled across it while I was flipping channels and the premise intrigued me. Basically, the shows produces found a small town entrenched in stereotypical, traditional roles. Most of the women were stay-at-home mothers and their husbands worked long hours or worked away from the home. The mothers took care of the majority of the housework and child rearing and the fathers worked hard so they could do so. The women who worked were hands-on business owners who were an integral part of both their business and their home. Then the producers removed all of the women (age 18 or older) from the town for one week; leaving the men and children to fend for themselves.
The producers throw in some usual occurrence oddities, like a little girls beauty pageant, which the fathers have to take care of, thus throwing them even more out of their comfort zone. Two of the guys decide to tag team and live together for the week; which sounds good in theory, but sometimes less is more – especially when it comes to 15 month old children.
One young man (who still lives at home with Mama) proposes to his girlfriend just as the women are leaving. The poor girl says yes and then boards a train with her future mother-in-law (who didn’t know the proposal was going to take place) and leaves for what could prove to be a very interesting period of getting to know her future family.
There is a single mother on the show. She leaves her three kids (two girls age 15 and 12 and a son who is not much younger than that) with her boyfriend of 7 months; a young, handsome, never-been-married Marine. I don’t have a young, hot boyfriend with whom I could leave my kids, so they would have to stay somewhere else. It will be interesting to see what happens with this particular family. The marine, age 24, doesn’t qualify to date me based on my Chronological Chart of Eligibility. Corey’s Chronological Chart of Eligibility basically states that 1) in order to be dateable, a man must be at least double the age of my oldest child and 2) must not have a single son who also falls into this age group. Nothing is more awkward than dumping a guy for his kid, so I find it best not to put myself in that situation. Anyway, this Marine is not even double the age of his new teenage charge, therefore I’m not sure I would have left her with him, but to each his own. Either he is going to man up and be the marrying type, or he is going to request a transfer to a new base before the week is halfway through.
My first thought when I started watching was that the men would be crying in no time and the children would realize just how amazing their mothers were. But before the first episode was over, I started to wonder if that is what would really pan out. I think the men will gain a new appreciation for the women in their lives, but what about the women? How will they survive this week away? Then the horrible question popped into my head, “What would happen if I went?”
I’m a business owner and single mother of two boys. I get the kids dressed and fed and off to school, open and run my business, pick them up from school, help with homework, grocery shop, pick up from football practice and volunteer at the school – all while training a puppy! I’m Wonder Woman, right? I know two parent families who don’t juggle as much as I do in a week. My world would fall apart if I left for a week…or would it?
I suppose my children would stay with their father, or perhaps my parents. I could write payroll checks and write up daily plans for my store and leave it with my employees. But unlike the women on the show who have the majority of their identity based in being a wife and mother, I am used to being away from my kids. They visit their father every other weekend and for a few weeks over the summer. I enjoy my free time and am not one to pine away and wonder what the little angels are doing without me.
The part that scares me is the curiosity – fear, even – that someone else can not only do what I do, but do it better. What if the kids do better in school? What if they don’t fight as much with each other? What if they drop five pounds or start cleaning their room or worse; what if they figure out that I’m not that good at being a mom? What if sales increase at my store? What if shoppers enjoy it more when I’m not there? What if the atmosphere is better? What if the displays are more creative? What if the only thing keeping my good life from being great is me?
The Week the Women Went airs on Tuesday nights at 9:00 Central on Lifetime, and I’ll be tuning in each week as this social experiment unfolds. I’m a little apprehensive to watch, since most of the reality television I watch makes me feel better about myself – you know, the girls on the Bachelor are cuter than me, but they aren’t usually that bright – but this show has already proved to be a catalyst for some deep thought and self reflection. I hope that by the conclusion, I have learned as much as the actual people in the experiment. Or at least maybe I’ll learn how to get a 24 year old Marine to date me.