Our "Wife Swap" episode reran on the Lifetime Channel again today. Every time it airs, it's a bit strange to us. Strange, because it's odd to see yourself on television and it's also so atypical to have people peering into your home life and routines. Unless you are in the entertainment business, I doubt you ever really adjust to that aspect.
Whenever we remember back to the twelve days that we lived in a whirlwind-of-a-filming-frenzy, it is a bit surreal to think that we even participated in such a bizarre social experiment. It all started when talent scouts from the production company for "Wife Swap," contacted me through myspace (oddly enough, the show "Trading Spouses" on Fox approached me the same week) inquiring as to our interest in being a part of the show. At first, I said, "No way - I could never handle that." But they have their ways of reassuring you that it is easier and less invasive than one would imagine. They guaranteed that our work schedule could remain near-normal (a promise that did NOT end up being kept and caused extreme distress to our business and to Steve, who was trying to film from 6 am to 11 pm, and THEN catch up on work in the wee hours of the night). But that's a whole different story and I'm not here to complain at this point.
I suppose that a better way to reflect on it is to remember what we gained from the show. Approximately two weeks after the filming wrapped, a producer called from the network to discuss lessons that they hoped we had learned from the show, so that when they came back to film the "follow-up" segment that they could focus on these newfound epiphanies. I must admit, some of the questions she asked were INCREDIBLY ridiculous; like, "So now that you were exposed to life with a Christian family, do you go to church? Do you believe in God now?" WOAH ... really? "Ummm, no, we don't," I told her. "Are you living by the "Man Law" now? Have you changed the roles and chores at all in your home?" Nope, not a chance. After five or six of these absurd inquiries, frustrated, she asked, "Well, what did you learn then?" I didn't hesitate one bit. I said, "We learned that we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY appreciate each other and our lives just the way they are."
And that's the TRUTH. If you are ever looking for a jolt of awareness (followed by gratefulness) for the people surrounding you, the knowledge you are privy to and the autonomy in your life, try living for two weeks with people who:
- get their direction in life from a literal interpretation of an archaic book
- in a house where men are kings and women are slaves
- Halloween is considered evil and the kids get to celebrate "God Bless You Day" INSIDE the house instead
- children think that they can pray for school grades and that demons will float out of their TV screens if they accidentally turn it to MTV
- and where having tattoos or gay friends means (by default) that you should not be allowed to procreate
I know that sounds dramatic and extreme, but that's really what happened and this is just a small sample of the beliefs and ideas that our swap family exposed us to. So YES, I came home with a renewed appreciation for my husband, children, friends, job, mind, viewpoints, free thoughts, and so much more. And when the "follow-up" film crew showed up for their supplementary story, we reiterated this gratitude and appreciation as clearly as we knew how to.
Looking back on the whole experience, I am glad that we participated. It brought me in contact with so many incredible people that found me online (and in person) after watching the episode. As crazy as some people still think we are, there were also many who initially saw our appearance and judged a book by its cover; yet, by the end of the show, realized that just because you look different, you can still have a great family, a great marriage and a successful life. It brought many fun opportunities our way and exposed us to interesting people all over the world (the show has aired in all corners of the world and I continue to get emails from the most obscure places on a weekly basis). It was challenging and at times, emotionally draining; but when all was said and done, it was an interesting and unique learning experience. Even if what we learned from it was just to APPRECIATE LIFE. Really, what better lesson is there, eh?
Some of our favorite lines from the show:
- "Big Momma is F**ing Nuts." - Steve
- "If you don't put on the Devil costume, then we will T.P. the church." - Shea
- "Ooooh, getting a little attitude, huh?" - Brynn
- "Freethinking is good... freethinking is great ...think for yourself ... this ain't no debate." - Brynn, Aidan, Shea together
- "My kids are atheists, they don't pray; and they get great grades." - me
- "The pole was not made for Big Momma." - Big Momma
- "You can't make someone believe in your God. You just can't." - Steve
- "dem da rulz" - Big Momma
If you missed it and want to watch it, you can catch it right here. All 44 minutes of silliness.