The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that in attempting to measure the position of a particle the position of the particle becomes uncertain – that making a measurement alters the particle being measured. A corollary to this is the Observer’s Paradox, which states that the observation of an event or experiment is influenced by the presence of the observer or investigator.
I’ve never been a fan of reality TV. When “Survivor” made its debut, I wasn’t all that interested seeing people mill around in their bathing suits, eat bugs, and take part in pointless competitions, only to stab each other in the back for the sole purpose of winning. I was bored by seeing people sit in front of the camera and pour out their innermost thoughts and feelings about the artificial situation they were placed in. I got dizzy as the cameras followed people around, watching them eat, sleep, dress, and interact with each other. I couldn’t imagine how these people lived with other people watching everything they did all day long. They had no privacy! Everything they did was right there on tape for the world to observe and judge.
I’ve studiously avoided getting involved in “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance?” and other shows where people make fools of themselves in front of the camera. The few times that I’ve run across reality shows, I feel unbelievably uncomfortable – I see each person’s struggle, I feel their stress, and I feel embarrassed for them when they are called before the judges and told that they are “out.” I watch in horror as the cameras follow the poor hapless loser back to their rooms where they pack up their stuff and head out the door into mediocrity. They don’t even get a quiet moment to cry over their pathetic performance!
So here comes the irony. Six months ago, we found it necessary to have a nurse in our home 12 hours a day to care for our son. Truly, this is a blessing for our family. E is too sick to go to the special-needs school that he attended, and having him at home along with my other two children (3 ½ years and 16 months old) is far too much work for me to handle alone. I can’t possibly take care of his multitude of medical and therapy needs while simultaneously chasing two very energetic little boys. It was a miracle that our nurse that cared for him on Sundays needed extra hours and was able to cover many of the shifts. We have since filled out “Team E” to 6 different nurses who are here every day of the week from 7 am to 7 pm. They are loving, caring women that we trust with the medical needs of our son, and are a real blessing in our lives…
Except now, I’m the one living in a reality show. There’s someone in my house for 12 hours a day, EVERY DAY. Someone who sees me as I first get up in the morning with weird hair and no bra. Someone who sees my kitchen in the morning, cluttered with dishes, my family room filled with toys, my living room coated with dust. Someone who sees my children running around wearing only a diaper, throwing food and temper tantrums. Someone who sees me on the occasional bad day, when I lose my temper and yell at said children. Someone who hears my phone conversations and has to wonder what “visiting teaching” or “enrichment activities” are. Someone who’s aware when I’m in my room trying to have a private cry because it’s a bad day and everything seems too overwhelming. Someone who is sitting in our living room on a Saturday afternoon, when the kids are sleeping and my husband and I are having, ahem, “alone time.” I feel just like one of those contestants on a reality show who has to explain to the cameras what they’re doing and where they’re going, and why, every minute of the day
I know these women aren’t judging me (although sometimes I feel like they are – which is a big part of the problem). They are professional home care nurses who have worked in the homes of many families in similar situations. They’ve seen far worse than my 16 month old son running around naked after a bath – they’ve seen grown men running around naked after a bath! They’ve seen messier houses, more dysfunctional families, and crazier mothers (I hope). But because they’re there, I always feel like there’s a guest in my home, and I have to behave a certain way. It’s the extra pressure I feel to get the kitchen cleaned up and fold those loads of laundry that are stacking up. It’s the feeling that I’m never really alone and that someone is always watching. People tend to behave differently when they know they are being observed, and that’s the way it is at my house every day. Someone is there. Someone is watching. I live in a reality TV show.