I had no idea when I entered the hallowed halls of motherhood how similar the undertaking is to being a cruise director. Lately, I have been feeling just like Julie from The Love Boat, that wonderful 70s and 80s sitcom that enthralled me during my youth and pre-teen years. And just for the record: I never wanted Julie’s job. I will never be as perky and agreeable as she was. (Not even with copious amounts of wine.) As a cruise director, she was responsible for entertainment and all socially related endeavors and activities on The Love Boat. She choreographed games, social outings, and parties. And although on some levels it seemed to be a cushy job (Hello, luxury cruise liner as my home? YES), having to continually herd others into activities that they may or may not enjoy is not my forte. However, I fear that is exactly what my life has turned into, right here in suburbia.
In my house, I am always the one saying “Hey, let’s go do ______________” (insert fun activity, restaurant, outing). I schedule the play dates, coordinating pick-ups and drop-offs. I ferry the elder Spawnderella to Girl Scouts and any other activities that she gets involved in. As the cruise director/mother, I am the one responsible for keeping things running smoothly and making sure the girls are getting along and having fun. (Because if they aren’t having fun they are bored. And if they are bored they start fighting. And if they start fighting over the same damn Barbie again, I swear to sweet baby Jesus that Barbie might just disappear forever.) Julie-the-perky-cruise-director may be responsible for hundreds of people, but I bet she hasn’t ever stepped on a motherf*cking Lego and howled in pain while toting a laundry basket that spills everywhere as she hopped on one foot with tears streaming down her face. Of course, I might be a wee bit jealous of Julie. She did work hard, but let’s face it: she also had a large staff to help her. I (along with most other mothers) do not have that luxury. On the other hand, if I had a staff they would be witnesses to some of my weaker parenting moments, like using bribery to get a few minutes of peace and quiet or threatening to hide the Wii remotes/Mario Kart wheels in places where the sun doesn’t shine because I tripped over them. Again.
But there’s an upside to everything. I may not live on a luxury cruise liner with Gopher and bartender Isaac, but I do live in a house that I do not have to share with hundreds of annoying tourists wearing ugly clothing and bad toupees. I may not get to travel the world and go shopping in exotic locales, but I live in a town with a kick-ass bike trail that I try to escape to on a semi-regular basis. (They didn’t have that on the Love Boat!) And neither motherhood nor my job require me to wear a hideous blue polyester uniform that would probably get really uncomfortable as I carry out my daily duties. And as any good cruise director knows, sometimes the best thing for their guests is to let them fend for themselves and do absolutely nothing. So there are times when I let the family zombify themselves on Mario Kart. (As long as I remember where I hid the wheels/Wii remotes.)
Hey, even cruise directors need a break sometimes.