I'm on the verge of entering the unknown...
I think the original reason I started this blog was to keep a record of all that is currently going on in my life so that one day when I'm rich and famous ;) I can look back on the journey. The back story is a way of making it all make sense as well as a little bit of therapy for me on the side. I was going to save a lot of what I'm about to write for later when I had more certainty, but I think if I am being true to this process and an active part of this journey, I am just going to have to let things hang out as they come. That said, the following is the story of my current collision course with reality television.
Of all the questions I get from people regarding the size of my family about religion and sex and various other astounding things, I think the one about when we are getting a reality TV show might be the least offensive. Let's face it. If you met a woman with 2 kids you wouldn't dream of asking her if they were all from the same man, would you? Or if she was Catholic? In fact, if a woman has (only) 2 children, those might actually be offensive things to question. For whatever reason, people abandon courtesy in exchange for curiosity when you have a family the size of mine. Another favorite is "Are you done?" as if the absolute offensive nature of my overpopulating the world can only be curbed by my promise to quit doing so.
And for the record, I don't know if I'm done. I feel like I might be. We have very little money and very little time left, but the idea of #9 doesn't make me want to rip my uterus out. (It might make Mark want to rip my uterus out, but...) So with that I shall say maybe. Things would need to change quite a bit first, and I would try like hell to get a little girl (oh, yes, there are some ways) because the testosterone level in this house is starting to get ridiculous. (And girls have cuter clothes.) But I'm getting way off course here. Back to reality.
I'm pretty sure Camber just sat down next to me and said "Your mama".
Ok. So "When are you guys getting your own reality show?" I hear it all the time. Just read the following conversation between myself and an old band mate of Mark's with whom I have just reacquainted:
The funny part is this was the first time someone mentioned it to me since the reality of my reality began.
Now when was it? I suppose it was the weekend of my high school reunion the 14th of August. Don't I look adorable???
A little sun burnt from the southern California beaches and a little tipsy, but not quite as drunk as the folks behind me! By the way, that's Lee and Rose with me and I think the 3 of us are aging quite well, agreed? So it was the morning of the 14th I got the first message via Facebook. It was from a production company interested in our family for a reality show. I remember getting the message really early in the morning because I have a hard time sleeping in a new place the first night so the hotel bed and I weren't getting along. I took one look at my phone and thought "HELL NO!"
Now you may wonder why. And it's simple. I want to keep custody of my kids. Can you really imagine letting your parenting be seen by the masses? Maybe if you live like the Duggers, ok. But if you're normal and battle through the poopy asses and screaming, crying angry little flesh balls from day to day counting the hours until you feel it's ok to crack open a bottle of wine and drink til you like them again, then yeah, you have to think about whether or not you want this filmed. There are days when the Pamper on the baby weighs 5 lbs because I forget to get to it soon enough. I think my sons fingernails are longer than mine right now. It's a challenge to raise kids. It's a challenge to find yourself while you're raising them, and sometimes it shows. Luckily it's behind closed doors. So did I want to dance with the Devil? I paused. For a while. I didn't even mention it to Mark until later that day because I was already resolved not to do it. When I finally did tell him, we laughed a little and just set it aside thinking "Yeah, right."
That night, we went to the reunion which was fun and odd at the same time. People my age are weird. For those of you who don't know, I'm 38 on the 16th of October. This was my 20 year reunion. (YIKES!) People just act a little strange. Everyone wants to impress everyone.. well, maybe I shouldn't say everyone. But some people did. And here I am just smiling and saying "My house is being foreclosed on and I'm finally happy after 3 years." It's funny the perspective you gain when you really get stripped down to your core of what matters. I remember answering someone who asked me why I had so many kids with: "Because I like sex" only to be looked at like I had the plague and walked away from. Once the alcohol started flowing people got more real, at which point I got buzzed and had a blast! Best part was watching one of the most popular stuck up girls in high school get tanked and seeing her husband trying to get her sloshy ass out the door. Classic. I found an old friend with whom I doubt I will ever lose contact again and so for that reason alone, the $204 I spent on tickets (!!!!!) was well worth it. Still, all the while throughout the evening, the message I received earlier lingered.
The next day we took the whole family to meet some friends at the Redondo Beach Fun Factory (a must see for anyone who wants a simulated acid trip) and I mentioned the message to one of my best friends, Jeff. I think this may be the turning point. He seemed all for it. His attitude was that no one on TV is like us and that we may be able to strike a chord (is it cord?) with people that other reality families don't. He said I am more like "Roseanne" and would you believe it? I laughed and took it as a compliment. I began really thinking about doing this thing.
A few days later, we did a Skype interview. My family was typical. Crying, interrupting, laughing. I think I breastfed the baby on camera. Winnie busted out her "Butch" character who is a lesbian supermodel with a pet iguana named Angie. You know, the usual. The interview went well and the everyone seemed to really like us. The project was going to be a one time deal and I figured if nothing else, it might get Ashley out to visit from Germany. And that was it. A sort of "We'll be in touch."
The next week was crazy as I struggled to get 3 kids enrolled in their new schools. Not all of the records I had were complete. Winnie needed to see a dentist. There was the usual onslaught of supplies to be purchased: crayons, scissors, glue, backpacks along with classroom items such as Kleenex and paper towels. Their schedules were all over the place for the first week and we were also heading back to Los Angeles for a wedding the following weekend. I did manage to get out the photos of my home that they requested:
Prep area of kitchen
Our bedroom (Cam's crib in back)
It was at this point I didn't hear much from them at all.
Life went on.
On Monday, the 13th of September I received word that they were perhaps interested in more. I think something inside me always knew that things would eventually go this direction. Does that sound arrogant? It isn't meant to be. I just know how totally kooky this group is. How utterly real, and odd, and hilarious the people I am surrounded by really are. And how I, as the person responsible for making them, am the biggest nutter of them all. And most of all, when you really break it all down, how truly unique and special this family and my marriage are. Once in a lifetime.
So Mark and Dia plus 8 (plus 10??) I am guessing it will be a pretty different show. For one, we have 8 kids of various ages, which gives us teenagers, a tween (can you say pain in the ass?) and a newborn along with a grandson in the mix. Second, and I think the most important thing about why we would be entertaining to watch, we are pretty damn liberal. (Duh.) We are raising kids in San Francisco, teaching them tolerance for all people and raising them to understand that gay marriage is the civil rights movement of our time. We don't go to church but if we did, and we may, it wouldn't be a Christian church but a completely non-denominational church that truly accepts everyone. We are home birthers but not hippies. I like the idea of organics but my wallet likes the idea of ramen. However, even with all of this, we are still completely normal and completely real. We occasionally swear and flip out in front of them. I yell, I cry, I drink, I laugh. I have learned how to tune-it-out to the extent that it should be considered an art form. My husband stresses more than me and is by far the more uptight of the two of us, but I think at times it's what strikes the balance. And yeah. He can really piss me off. We laugh and say completely inappropriate things, but most of all, we crazy love each other. (Except for Taylor. He occasionally thinks we're swell.) We have been to hell and back and made it to the other side. America could end up watching us lose our house, but we aren't alone. All of these things put together could make for great TV, don't you think?
So there lies the account of the reality of my reality. I can't say much more for now until the deal is sealed, (cross your fingers) but I will continue to reverse and tell you all more about my past life as well as keep you current on the day to day craziness that is the Smith house. If we are signed, I will be free to blog away and plan to tell you all then everything that is going on. I hope you enjoy!
One last note. I've been through a lot in my life. I am grateful to have this man by my side and these children at my feet. The past 3 years almost robbed us of all of it, but we are standing tall. This could really change our lives. We hope it does. Maybe this is our time; time for a nice warm current to come our way in what felt like an ocean of sadness, distance and pain. We hope you will support us as we take the plunge!