How Binge-Watching TV Is Preparing Me for Parenthood


I have always been a television person. I lack the attention span to sit down for hours watching movies, but give me entire seasons of shows that I view watch in thirty-minute increments, and I am a happy camper. I was made for the streaming age. And never have I appreciated my Netflix membership more than during my pregnancy. Much like food cravings and aversions, what I watched and what sounded good matched up to where I was in my pregnancy. Along the way, I also noticed I was gaining some pretty valuable insights into parenthood.

I was already in the middle of re-watching Parks and Recreation when I found out I was pregnant. The first trimester was rough, as it is for most people. I was nauseous, exhausted, and generally felt out of sorts. A hilarious show that I could watch from the couch was just what I needed. Leslie Knope loved waffles and Ron Swanson hated vegetables and all I wanted was bread and cheese.

As a normally lactose-intolerant vegetarian, I was beginning to learn that life as I knew it was over.

Later in the series, as Leslie and Ann navigated pregnancy and motherhood, it really struck a chord with me about reconciling my old life with my new reality. The power of the female friendships also resonated. I was entering uncharted waters, and it was nice to have girlfriends to help me navigate. Pregnancy and subsequent parenthood will teach you very quickly that you cannot do this alone and that it is OK to ask for help and advice.

When I started The Golden Girls next, I was well into the throes of the first trimester. My appetite was still off, and these cheesecake-loving ladies were just the comfort food I needed. What really resonated about the show was the reality that you never stop parenting your child. Sophia routinely has to walk Dorothy through life’s obstacles and serves as a surrogate mother to all the ladies in the house. Perhaps I was naïve, but I was so caught up in the initial shock of pregnancy and thoughts of an infant that I almost forgot about parenting my child as an adult. The Golden Girls was a happy reminder to embrace parenthood in all stages with laughter and a good deal of sass.

Almost like magic, around the thirteen week mark, I began to feel almost human again. I decided to re-watch one of my favorites: The Office. This show had particular significance for me and my husband. We watched it from the beginning, and it paralleled our adult lives. Watching it again, I was even more drawn to the Pam and Jim storyline as they became husband and wife and then parents. How I could relate to their anxiety, their desire to get this right, and their reliance on a village of family and friends to get them through the hard parts.

When I got to the series finale, I knew that pregnancy hormones were, in fact, real as I sobbed through the ending. Andy Bernard’s monologue where he talks about recognizing the good times while you are in them really hit home. It was a poignant reminder from a comedic source to embrace the moment. Pregnancy is a short season in your life, and not always a fun one, but it is important to pause and appreciate the miracle before you, morning sickness and all.

After The Office, my husband and I decided to catch up on season six of Homeland. Somehow we managed to subscribe to Showtime (no one will admit fault,) so we decided to take advantage. I am not sure what I learned about parenting from watching, but I can correlate the anxiety-inducing roller coaster ride of the show to what parenting an infant must feel like. On second thought, watching Peter and Carrie make questionable and dangerous decisions really brought out my maternal instincts. It made me realize that this little boy I have been carrying inside me will one day leave the nest, and I will have to trust that I have taught him and prepared him well enough. I can only imagine this is how Saul must feel.

This is also a good reminder to instill a healthy fear of being a CIA operative in my child.

After that drama, I decided I needed something lighter as I entered my third trimester. I opted for Master of None. Dev is a thirty-something actor living in New York City, who trying to figure out life and love. Married for eleven years with a baby on the way, that part of my life is long over. Watching him navigate first dates and career changes was a nice reminder to be content in the season of life I am in. Plus the first two episodes of season two were set in Italy, which is where my husband and I lived for four years when we were younger and less tied down.

While watching, I realized that while those years were wonderful and full of adventure, I am excited to embrace the biggest adventure yet: parenthood.

As my pregnancy is beginning to wind down, I have started season three of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The last months of pregnancy can be tough. I currently feel huge and winded, and this show is exactly what I need: lighthearted comedy with deeper messages mixed in. The theme of this season is about trying to do better and be better. As I get ready to meet my son, I am trying each day to be a better and less selfish person. I want him to get the best of me. I also know I will make mistakes and continue to make them throughout his life, but I always want him to know I am trying my best to be my best.

Additionally, as I get ready for childbirth and all that will come after, it does not hurt to be reminded that females are so incredibly strong. Bring on the baby. As long as I have my TV, I know I will be ready.