Confession: I didn’t even know watching TV was “bad for you” until I became a mom. One minute I was binge-watching Downton Abbey for days on end and the next minute I had a newborn in my arms and my Facebook feed was an endless stream of the dangers of exposing your children to screens.
I’m not here to disagree with the experts, but I will say that the anti-TV movement was not a thing when I was growing up. Either that or my mom just missed the memo. Here’s what I do know: I spent many an evening sitting around the dinner table with the Seavers, watching Kevin Arnold tread the murky waters of tweenhood, and hearing Stephanie Tanner drop her “how rude” catchphrase. The truth is I learned a lot, especially from the TV moms.
In this ode to TV moms, here are FIVE fabulous lessons I learned from FIVE (well, technically six) fabulous, albeit fictional women.
5. Elyse Keaton from Family Ties — Allowing Your Children to Be Who They Are
As parents, we stress about our children. It’s normal. The truth is I secretly stressed about my first daughter while she was still backflipping in my belly. I hope she loves good music, I thought. Let her be an avid reader, I shouted at the universe. Even after she was born, I fantasized about who I wanted her to be. Now that she’s turning five, though, she is surprising me with her choices. She loves outer space and anything to do with astronauts. You know what, that’s freaking cool! Meanwhile, I look at Elyse from Family Ties, an über-liberal former hippie, and what did she end up with? A Republican son obsessed with money and a fashion-crazed daughter unconcerned with global issues. (She lucked out with her third, Jennifer.) Elyse loved Alex and Mallory not despite these qualities but because that’s who they were. The only thing I want my girls to be now is happy.
4. Kate McArdel & Allie Lowell of Kate & Allie — Redefining the Family Unit
When gal pals Kate and Allie went through divorces, these TV moms decided to team up and raise their daughters together in the same house. It’s brilliant, really. Not only do they have support and companionship thanks to the unique arrangement, but they also have built-in babysitting! Just another reminder that families come in all different shapes and sizes. Admittedly, they may have taken the idea a bit too far when Allie remarries in Season 6 and Kate moves in with them, too. That’s probably why there was no Season 7.
3. Debra Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond — Prioritizing Family
I want to start off by saying that my own mother-in-law is 100 percent awesome and I feel very lucky to call her family. (And I’m not just saying that in case she’s reading this.) I’m pretty sure Debra doesn’t echo my feelings regarding her own situation. Not only is mother-in-law, Marie, overbearing, critical, and condescending toward Debra, she also happens to live directly across the street. She knows where Debra’s front door is and she’s not afraid to use it. That’s why I’m continually impressed with Debra’s devotion to Ray and her children, swallowing her pride on a daily basis to put her family first. Seriously, this woman is a pillar of strength and self-control among all TV moms. Kudos!
2. Roseanne Conner of Roseanne — Keeping It Real
In a sea of picture-perfect TV moms from Carol Brady to Maggie Seaver, Roseanne came crashing on to the scene with her messy house, loud mouth, and microwave-ready meals for dinner. The show was an instant hit — why? Because millions of American women said, “Yes! Now, THIS I can relate to!” Just because my home isn’t decorated with tasteful art and covered in vibrant green plants doesn’t mean it isn’t filled with love. Roseanne showed us what the real, average family looks like on the inside. In my opinion, the Conners were doing it right.
1. Angela Bower of Who’s the Boss? — Living the Dream
Last but not least, we can’t forget powerhouse Angela, an incredible role model for all women then and now. After going through her divorce, Angela wasn’t about to let her career go down the drain, but she also accepted the fact that she isn’t a superwoman and she cannot, in fact, do it all. So, what’s her solution? She hires an easy-on-the-eyes former baseball player to move into her house to clean, cook her meals, fold the laundry, and vacuum. Then she takes her plan one step further and makes this dude her husband! Seriously, is there even a question? YOU’RE the boss, lady!