Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Week The Women Went

She's the strongest woman I know.
 I can remember being about 6 years old. My mother came to the school to pick me up, and she was in a white set of scrubs. She was tired. Her eyes weary, but to me she looked like an angel. That's the way I'll always remember her. My angel.
 My mother was an RN. She was the head of Intensive Care at a large hospital in Mississippi, and saved many lives... occasionally even my own. When I was just five months old, I contracted Viral Encephalitis. To put it in English where the real world understands, that means that at five months old I ran 106 degree fever and my brain swelled immensely. I almost died.
 My mother noticed that something was wrong immediately and took me to the hospital where she worked. They had no idea how I received it, but it didn't matter. My life was on the line. She packed me in ice, and for three days my mother waited beside me. Caring for me alongside of a team of health professionals. She nursed me back to health. She saved me. I literally owe her my life for more than one reason.
 She is a beautiful woman. Maybe not to everyone, but to me. She has scars on her face that age her skin. Her anxiety and stress level has added a few years as well. Not to mention the fact that she has at some point or another, been a mother to over 40 children between adoption, foster and marriage. I however am her only birth child. Regardless of it all… She is beautiful. 
 She has a big heart. She takes care of everyone and everything. She would literally take the shirt off of her own back just to give it to someone who wanted it. A lot of times I find myself frustrated at how much responsibility she has been strapped with, and willingly takes on.
 On an average day, my mother wakes up and dresses the twins for school. When she gets them on the bus, she usually  prepares my step father for his day of leasurely man duties (whatever that entails.) Immediately following that, she makes phone calls to the bank, hospitals, and billing companies to make sure that she hasn't fallen behind on any payments.
 By the time she's done, it's around 10 o'clock. She's usually somewhere between her third or fourth cup of coffee, and despite my nagging, her second or third cigarette. She showers, gets dressed, and drives to Corinth, which is about 45 minutes south of home. She picks up my grandmother, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's, or my grandfather who is suffering from Emphysema. She takes one or both of them to their doctors appointments for the day. They usually range anywhere from Nashville to Memphis or anywhere in between. That's close to a three hour drive in either direction.
 Among her list to care for as well is one of my other 6 or 7 siblings she still lends a hand to, my step-father, his father, his sister, her kids, and numerous friends/ neighbors who might need support. After doctors appointments/ errands, she does the grocery shopping,  then she finds herself back at home getting the twins bathed and fed, then ready for bed. At the end of the night she follows up with my step-father to see if he has had a pleasant "Man duty" day, and then struggles to keep her eyes open long enough to call me for our daily chat.
 Now what I haven't mentioned is that my mother suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and troubled kidneys.
 She has been sick since I was around 11 years old. She had a c-section when I was born, and for some unknown reason, the scar burst, letting gangreen set in.  I nearly lost her. I can remember her lying on the couch, day in and day out, a sweat broken across her forhead. Sitting next to her with a glass of ice water nervously wondering why Mommy couldn't get up. Why she wasn't the same.
 When she finally recovered, her immune system was down, she developed the Fibro, and there have since been signs of Lupus as well. Still, everyday she fights through the pain. She can no longer work as a nurse. She suffers from short-term memory loss.
 Still she raises two incredible boys, a host of other young adults, and grown men and women. She supports three to five different households, mentally, emotionally, physically and partially financially. No one else ever offers to help.
 If she is down for a day, she's just down. Sometimes that means that the twins might go with someone else for the day (what a burden) or someone has to take themselves to the doctor (god forbid).
 I hate that she doesn't get the assistance she needs, or break that she deserves. I hate that she literally carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, or at least the weight of Olivehill.
 That's why when I saw the trailor for "The Week The Women Went", I couldn't help but wonder. What would it be like if my mother just picked up and left?
 "The Week The Women Went" is a television series premiering on Lifetime on August 14th. The entire show is based off a social experiment where every woman in one town gets up and goes for a week, leaving the men behind to care for themselves, their children, their lives and the community.
 This show covers the experiences of multiple families who interact with each other within the community. The question you have to ask yourself is, how important are women? How much do they contribute to the general public as well as to the personal lives of their own families? Who REALLY wears the pants in the family? Would families be able to fend for themselves and still function healthily and properly without the tender love and devotion of the women within them?
 I personally think that my entire family would crumble without my mother. I myself know that without her my entire life would have been different. She was my biggest support system, my biggest fan, and ultimately my best friend. She encouraged me, loved me unconditionally, and shared with me pricelss wisdom that I too will be able to pass down to my children.
 She is my Hero.
 I know that there are really good men out there. I also know that every woman isn't the supportive caregiver my mother was, but I also know that a lot of them are.
 I can't wait to see how their story plays out. The effects of an estrogen-less society. I'm curious to watch and be a part of their experience. When I asked Jon Kroll (producer of The Week the Women Went) to offer a quote for this post, I was expecting something very brief. I expected one to two sentences saying something along the lines of “The show is great and you should watch it.” What I got instead was the passion of a man who truly believe is his work.
His input was so incredible that I couldn’t pick just part of it to share with you. Here it is. Raw and uncut for your eyes only.
“When I first met with Elli Hakami of the BBC about "The Week the Women Went" I knew I had to do the show. It's not often in the non-scripted television business that we get the opportunity to work on big, compelling social experiments that ask provocative questions like this one does. The only other such opportunity I had was when I produced "Amish in the City" in 2004, and that show was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. So for me, it was a no-brainer.

There's just so much to explore with this project. Yes, the base concept invites the reinforcing of stereotypes and at times those stereotypes are certainly reinforced. But there was something undeniably magic about having one community made up almost entirely of men and children and another of women, even for just a week. None of these people had experienced anything like it and I think they were changed because of it. If anything, I think the many "tasks" the men undertook as part of the show distracted them in a way that had them let their guard down at times, and really be themselves, something that often doesn't happen on shows like this for weeks. And if the women thought they were just "on vacation," they were in for a surprise because the experiment was in full force at their resort, with many of them experiencing a kind of sisterhood they never had before.

Some who see the show may wish for more, that we had dug deeper, but remember it was only one week. If you look closely, between the screams and the tears and the messy households, there are incredible, quiet moments of discovery throughout the series that had me and the rest of the crew continually engaged and fascinated.” Jon Kroll- Producer
Thanks to social media and technology, we can actually follow along with these families as their story unfolds before our eyes. Who knows. Maybe  I can even get my own family to watch. Maybe I can help them see what an incredible woman that they have in their lives.
By following the #WomenWent hash tag on twitter, you can chat live with the cast members during the show. Ask them questions about the show, and their lives.
 You can check out the entire verified cast here:
 So let's find out... What happened "The Week The Women Went"? 

1 comment:

  1. I love this point... you've grown a fan in me. Your mother sounds like an amazing woman and in a lot of ways it sounds like you carry those traits along with you. She lifted/ lifts others through her acts of graciousness and you through your words of wisdom/love/and grace as well...