The Full Suburban: Life is not a movie. That shouldn’t stop you from writing a new script.
May 8, 2023 Updated Mon., May 8, 2023 at 2:51 p.m.
Sometimes, I wish I was living in a romantic comedy.
In a rom-com, the heroine goes through her ups and downs, but at just the moment when she’s hit rock bottom and you think, “Why did I pay 13 dollars for this movie?,” she narrows her eyes and says something like, “I think I have an idea.” And then a musical montage starts as she begins to pull her down-in-the-dumps self up by her bootstraps.
The next three minutes are a series of scenes of her doing things like getting a drastic haircut, kicking out her useless boyfriend, and ripping out the cabinets in the kitchen that have been apparently blocking her progress all these years. It’s a quick, painless process for the viewer to watch, full of satisfying makeovers and life-changing self-affirmations, and at the end, you know the heroine is going to come out on top, a much better version of herself than the sad-sack woman she was just minutes before.
Real life is not like that, and I know this because I had a sad-sack moment of my own recently, and no musical montage came to the rescue to smooth it all over within a matter of minutes.
My very unromantic-comedy moment happened one morning last week, after I’d cajoled one unwilling child out of bed, fielded countless questions from another, tried and failed to help a daughter transition from college life to productive-summer-home life, and endured a few glances from a couple sons that said, in essence, “You are so lame, please stop talking.”
Sidenote: If you’re wondering how I can say all these things about my kids without any fear of them finding out, it’s because none of them will ever read this. In fact, if I needed a safe place to keep my secret list of all their Christmas presents, I could just print it in one of my columns and they would be sure to never see it. Same goes for the Netflix password and the contents of our will. This column is like Fort Knox to a Ditto kid.
But anyway, back to the sad-sack morning. For two hours, I spent my energy and time convincing all these people to do things they didn’t want to do, and I was a bit worn down by the thanklessness of it all. And then the ask-a-million-questions kid asked me one question too many, and I declared that I didn’t know the answer.
“I’ll ask Dad,” he said. “Dad knows lots of things. You know … well, you know how to cook.” I turned around to face him, hoping that I hadn’t heard what I’d just heard.
“I know how to cook???” I repeated, kind of laughing but also kind of dying inside. “Are you serious? That’s all you think I know how to do?”
He did his best tween attempt at backpedaling, but it was too late. As he bent down to tie his shoelaces so he wouldn’t be late catching the bus, his mom was already deep in an existential crisis. I went outside and sat on the front porch steps, where I stared off at the hills and brooded.
“I have a college degree,” I mused. “I’ve held jobs and been in charge of some really big stuff, and lots of people think I’m fairly smart and capable. But in my kids’ eyes, I’m just a sub-par chef/chauffeur lame-o. And maybe they’re right.” It was a depressing thought.
After the kids headed down to the bus, Logan came outside and sat next to me on the porch to see what was going on with his obviously-bummed-out wife. I immediately spilled my guts while occasionally crying big, fat, toddler tears.
In typical Logan fashion, he listened without judgment, agreed that our kids can be ingrates, and squeezed my knee in solidarity.
“So what do you want to do?” he finally asked. “You can find something you love and do it; what’s it going to be?”
In a movie, this is where the musical montage would start playing and I would narrow my eyes and look at Logan with a grin, saying, “I think I have an idea.” In three minutes, and without any pain or effort on my part, you would see me open a kitschy dessert shop, or get a master’s degree, or write a book that lands on the New York Times Bestsellers list.
But this is real life. Act Two isn’t going to be handed to me; I need to discover it for myself. So maybe it’s time to dry my toddler tears, hum my own song, and get to work. I think I have an idea.
Julia Ditto shares her life with her husband, six children and a random menagerie of farm animals in Spokane Valley. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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