Life Ain’t a TV Show – But Sometimes A Commercial Gets Shot on My Street
(Photo of a neighbor’s house 3 doors down. They shot a Walmart commercial there last night. It was fun to see the fake snow, talk to the actors, and let my kids steal granola bars and chips off the craft service truck in front of our house.)
As a kid, I always thought life would be like the sitcoms I loved to watch. Fade in funny family.
Action and fighting.
The makeup scene.
Fade out – Happily Ever After.
(Oh, and don’t forget the applause along the way. Even during the pie fight… hair would always look amazing!)
I was one of the lucky ones. I actually got to write for TV. It was during that time of life I met my husband – the slow and steady Ricky to my discombobulated Lucy. Family would visit me on the set and I’d introduce them to Roger Daltry who was playing an alcoholic in recovery. Or I’d have them chat up Lynn Redgrave who, in a glorious British accent, would run up to them and say, “Oooh, Frazer is lovely! How do you like California???”
Lest I sound like I’m reliving my glory days (which, well, I am) I have found that it’s nothing short of ironic to be where I’m at now in life… dealing with moody teenagers, moving toward the next phase of my writing career and working a steady day job – the only TV life being the commercials they shoot down the street from my house. If I’m not careful, I can get overwhelmed in regret fast.
“It’s a weird place to be,” I often tell Tuskany during our Thursday afternoon chats. While I sit in her beautiful wooden floor home with her seven perfectly groomed cats (yes… SEVEN cats) we talk about who we used to be at 27 vs. 47. We chat about public school vs. private school, politics and exactly what is the magic sauce that makes kids self-assured. God? Exercise? Education?
I asked my kids this very question on the way home from her house and my son’s answer was pretty simple: “We keep it simple. We like being weird. Mostly, we’re just wired like this.”
My kids might be wired for zen, but their mother certainly isn’t. I worry about everything. A lot. (And believe me when I say “a lot” is a drastic improvement over “all the time.” ) With my neurotic brain, I can’t change my genetics, or some circumstances, but I can change my attitude. Which, when you’re dealing with teens, is everything.
Traffic… No Parking… Rocky Beach… OH MY!
The above statement couldn’t be more true than it was today, and that leads me to Fun Friday Tip #3 – Gratitude over Attitude. (Ten years ago, if I read that, I would have punched the writer in the face. Today, though? I cling to it.) I can’t change my kids’ attitude all the time, but I can change mine.
I can decide to be angry at the L.A. traffic, (it took 2 hours to get to the Santa Monica Pier) the closed parking lot (which took us a half hour to navitate to) and my one child who decided that the alternate “rocky” beach with the free parking ten miles away was a dull alternative to a roller coaster and bumper cars over the ocean.
To her credit, she did not throw a hissy by any means, but she was wistful and disappointed to say the least.
To MY credit – and even more exciting – I didn’t throw a hissy either. I was not wistful, nor disappointed, because I’m learning to separate my kids’ experiences from my own. It is not their job to fulfill any lonely crevices in my soul, and it’s not my job to fill theirs. The only thing I am committed to these days is to do my best to walk next to them as they journey the complicated road of life’s ups and downs.
I chose to be grateful for the water. To be grateful for the sand. To be grateful for some extra cash in my pocket from a generous location manager who more than compensated me for use of our dirt filled backyard to set up tables and chairs.
Later that afternoon I texted their father.
Me: “Would you like to meet us at the Reel Inn?”
Him: “But we have all that food left over from the catering trucks in our fridge. Why eat out?”
Me: “Because it’s joyful. And spontaneous. And I want to.”
Him: “I guess.”
The Old Me: (worried about his opinion) “Oh, well, it’s okay if you don’t want to…” Or worse…”You’re right. I’ll come home.” (Cut to resentment, temporary depression, ultimate angry explosion. Helpful, huh?)
The New Me: “We’d love to see you! If you can’t make it, we’ll be home at 7!”
It was lovely.
Takeaway: My attitude toward not owning my family’s feelings led to a fun day for me, even if was not an amazing day for them. I am not in charge of their emotions, nor are they in charge of mine. What a lovely place to live! (Well, not as lovely as the beach. My second time in a week… and I’m going tomorrow! It’s my happy spot for sure. If any of you readers live in So Cal, we should totally do a beach day one weekend!)