Desperate Housewives: Thanks from a (formerly) Desperate Mom!

I’m a little melancholy today. Not overly sad or distraught. Just a little wistful and sentimental.

Last night I said “goodbye” to an old friend, “Desperate Housewives.” Yeah, I know it’s just a TV show and truth be told my old friend and I had drifted a bit in the last few years.

In the early years of our friendship I waited all week for my dose of suburban scandal, intrigue and humor. But lately, it hasn’t really been appointment television. I might watch the TiVoed episode of my old friend later in the week.

So the melancholy doesn’t come from losing my favorite show, but rather from marking the end of an era.

Desperate Housewives came on the air in 2004. At the time, I was mother to a two-year-old and a newborn baby. Life was hectic, crazy and even a little desperate. So when I could squeeze out an hour of television on a Sunday night, it was comforting to spend it with my buddies Susan, Gabrielle, Bree and Lynette. Especially Lynette. While I could live vicariously through the other women and their choice of designer clothing and stilettos, it was Lynette who brought me comfort.

Lynette was a woman struggling to keep it all together. As the show began, she was a stay-at-home mother to 4 children. She was often overwrought and disheveled. One day as her sons were misbehaving during a garden party at a neighbor’s pool, she jumped right in with them and carted their soggy butts back home. Ah, an inspiration for anyone who’s had to deal with a bratty kid in public. As the show progressed, she went back to work and had to try and juggle the demands of being a full-time working wife and mom. Sound familiar?

I remember in the early years of the show, I’d always watch while I folded my umpteenth load of weekend laundry. I was usually crabby that I hadn’t gotten enough done over the weekend to prepare us for our busy week ahead. I’d watch as I bathed my toddler and baby. (Actually, not really watching just listening as the TV played in the bedroom nearby.)

As my kids became preschoolers I had to convince them to turn off Penny and Pals so I could walk down Wisteria Lane instead. (My petitions to ABC to allow Penny Andrist to become a Desperate Housewife went unanswered. That would have solved all my problems.) Once they surrendered the TV, I’d have to half-watch it as I bribed and cajoled them to get to bed already!

But as they started elementary school, the tides turned a bit. They started to find something else to do while mom watched “that scary show!” From glimpses of promos, they began to think the show was as violent as a Jean Claude Van Damme movie. (Actually, for the suburbs, Fairview did have its share of murder and mayhem but it wasn’t really that bad). I didn’t argue with my kids assessment of the show since it meant they would give me an hour’s worth of peace. That didn’t happen very often.

So here we are 8 years later. My life is a lot easier than in was in 2004. My daughters are 10 and 8 and the work they require is a fraction of what it once was. They’re just a blast to hang out with. (In fact, I didn’t watch last night’s series finale until later because we were spending time out in the yard playing.)

So Susan, Gabrielle, Bree and Lynette (especially you Lynette) thanks for hanging out with me. Our time together was fictional and make-believe. But as I navigated my way through those early mommy years, you helped make my reality a little less desperate.