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A non-formulaic reaction to a formula commercial

I am just going to keep watching this commercial until it stops making me cry. And that hasn't happened yet.

For those who have not seen the Similac Mommyhood commercial, I will offer the briefest of synopses. Different ideological groups of parents set off to spar. They stop to save a baby in peril. Fellowship ensues.

I've watched it at least a dozen times now, and it still leaves me crying like a three year old who's been told he can't have a second rice krispie treat. (ahem Zion.)

I love so many details about the parent "gangs" in this characterization. I love that the attachment parents come off as slightly indecisive and bewildered ("Is it go time? Yeah, I think it's go time..."). I love the fact that the badass breastfeeders look gross for not wearing bras. I belong to both those two tribes, and I think both depictions are accurate of me.

I appreciate that the area where the stay-at-home Dads are picnicking is an unadulterated mess.

But that is not the reason the commercial has me crying. Somehow it struck a chord, when the stroller rolls downhill and the parents all run to catch it. The mama peeks into the basinet and (wait for it, sob) she mouths the words, "It's okay. He's fine."

That's what made me YouTube this stupid thing until it showed ads on top of my ad. The inaudible phrase, "He's fine."

I don't think I'll ever be able to utter these words. In the absence of a formulaic vignette that only lasts three minutes, there will never be a stopping point for me. I will never have a moment, I don't think, when I look at my children and sigh with relief and say, "Phewf."

"We made it. HE'S FINE."

Another video that I watched in repetition this year was a clip of the first woman to complete the American Ninja Warrior qualifiers. After destroying the obstacle course like she works for an obstacle course manufacturer (which she does) Kacy Catanzaro scales the last hurtle, a vertical wall, to ring a bell signaling that she's reached the trial's end. That part got me chocked up. With jealousy, I guess. Not because I want to reinvent myself as a gymnast (unless breastfeeding counts), but because I will never have a moment in my life where I complete anything enough to ring a bell. Raising children is all encompassing from now til perpetuity. There's is never a moment when I get to say, as Kacy does in her tiny little gymnast voice: "I did it!"

Confound you, moving pictures.

I probably suffer less from the monotony of parenting than from the fallacy of narrative cohesion. Commercials and network television need to tell a story. The convention of the three-minute clip, whether it sells something or not, is to quickly string events together with a clear beginning middle and end. Life does not work in this fashion. It goes on for an impossibly long time after three minutes. We may have successes and we may have failures. We may connect with former enemies or triumph over physical obstacles. But life doesn't stop where a video might pull up a facebook share button. Life goes on. We have to go home and deal with the laundry. Find something for everyone to eat for dinner.

My goal for the moment is not to TRIUMPH over adversity or opposition, but find beauty in the strife-filled obstacle-laden world that I live in. It may never be 'fine' and it may never be 'done.' But if I let go of narrative expectations it can probably be beautiful.

(PS: same message different examples in an article I wrote for Horatio, out this week. I am a one-trick, mommy, potty-mouthed pony, apparently. Funnily enough, that's called a 'dam'.)

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