I Saw Myself on TV: A Desperate Housewives Moment
Lynette is a woman who leaves the corporate world to be a stay-at-home-mom of four children, two of whom are "challenging", as one of the characters puts it. Their hyperactivity, plus the daily pressures of being a homemaker put a lot of stress on Lynette, who also piles on heaps of pressure upon herself by comparing herself to other women she assumes have it together. The dark humor in her storyline encompasses her taking her children's Ritalin as a way of getting energy. She has a husband who, while loving and supportive, just isn't there to take enough of the load off of her shoulders. We see scenes of her jumping in a swimming pool in a elegant dress and heels to discipline her children, telling off a poilice officer who has the nerve to imply she is a bad mom, punching her husband after he suggests taking the risk of making love during a time they can conceive again, and attempting to have acupuncture done while her rambunctious children destroy the waiting room on the other side of the door.
On last night's show, she has a dream of completely losing control, screaming at her children, throwing peanut butter jars through the window, and of her dead friend tempting her with suicide. She feels she has lost all control, drops her kids off with a friend, and drives away in a state of desperation. When Lynette's friends find her in a soccer field, limp and almost catatonic, they get her to admit that she can't handle it. Lynette feels like a failure and thinks her kids shouldn't have a mother like her. Lynette's friends reassure her that they have all felt that way at some point and that she doesn't need to compare herself with anyone else. Being a mom is hard enough without adding that pressure. Lynette feels relief, but also expresses her frustration over her friends not sharing their struggles with her. Lynette realized her assumptions about her friends were unrealistic, but when women don't share these dark moments with each other, others assume they are all alone in their own dark moments.
To me, this moment of Deperate Housewives was reality-TV. Believe it or not, I was actually in tears during these scenes, because I saw so much of myself in Lynette, I began to wonder if ABC had TV cameras in my home. I have had many a day of exhausted depseration with my four children, all born within 5 years of marriage. I have also slumped over my kitchen table and wrung my hands through my hair, tempted to just pull it out. While I have never dreamed of suicide or have taken my child's cough medicine or antibiotics, I have often wondered why God would treat my children so badly by giving them a horrible mom like me.
Well, those are my bad days. But the end of the show was equally as touching when the narrator talked about how some people deal with the guilt of their sins by asking for forgiveness and vowing to do better next time, and their prayers are answered. During this narration, we see Lynette resting and dreaming of joyful days with her children, and her dead friend smiliing at her as if to say, "You'll be just fine". Those are also reflections of my good days.
I think the message of this scandalous guilty pleasure of last night's episode was something all housewives (desperate or not) need to see. Being a stay at home mom is not easy, and for many of us, it does not come naturally. Comparing ourselves to others and isolating ourselves in our perceived failures only makes the job more diffucult. When we hide our struggles from others out of fear of appearing weak, we are doing ourselves a disservice. Having a support system of friends with whom to share our dark days can ease the burdens we feel and actually help us to excel in this life we have chosen. Signs of imperfection as a mom, wife, and homemaker do not mean we should give up, but rather reach out.