At my house, one of our guilty pleasures is a Disney Channel sitcom called “Good Luck Charlie.” It’s a surprisingly charming and well-written show about a middle class family of 7. My kids love 4-year-old Charlie Duncan and her siblings, while my husband and I love to hate their mom, Amy.
Amy Duncan, as played by Leigh-Allyn Baker, is as self-absorbed as she is fiercely devoted to her kids. She’s got a quick temper, a big mouth and an overinflated sense of her own correctness. I think Amy Duncan is awesome, but only on my TV.
Sometimes, I think I might be Amy Duncan.
Mostly, it comes out when I’m dealing with paperwork and other minutiae from my kids’ school. After working all day and keeping track of schedules, groceries and other family business, my brain doesn’t have much capacity for the kinds of loose ends that crop up when certain forms aren’t filled out correctly or updated dental reports need to be faxed in. I literally can feel my brain go “bzzzzzzt.” But I’m afraid to put these things off because I hate nasty surprises. I work hard to make sure things are taken care of in order to avoid, say, finding out that my daughter’s not enrolled for next year because a few papers didn’t get where they where they were supposed to go.
But sometimes that doesn’t make me a very nice person.
I’m not mean or hysterical. I certainly have never chased a teacher through the halls, like Amy did when her daughter got a less-than-satisfactory grade. But I can be annoying. I imagine that my daughters’ teachers are rolling their eyes, sick to death of me. And I feel guilty. I don’t want to be *that* parent. Amy Duncan is not charming in real life, and other people, who are just trying to do their jobs, don’t deserve to deal with her.
So, how can I improve? I could start by squashing my urge to resolve issues as soon as they arise. I could give myself an hour or even an evening to mull things over. Perhaps I could even let my husband handle it! Then maybe I wouldn’t feel so already over-burdened with the family’s business. I could take a deep breath when things get ridiculous, slow down, and try to keep the edge out of my voice. I could tell myself, “Don’t be Amy. Don’t be Amy. Don’t be Amy.”
Because I don’t want to be Amy Duncan – except when she’s punishing her kids, which is all kinds of awesome. I couldn’t find a clip of that, though, so I’ll leave you with Amy performing her original poem, “Locker.”
If any of you other “might be Amy Duncan” moms out there have advice, let me know. How do you tame your inner Amy?