The Bell Jar

It is with guilt, fear, joy, terror, resentment, pride, love and frustration in equal measure, that we are all mothers. We will never cease comparing ourselves to other mothers, competing with other mothers and putting unreasonable expectations on ourselves to do more. To be better. To accomplish just one more thing.


We live in the real world. Not the world of propaganda so richly played out for us in ads. Ours is a world with overhead fluorescent lighting in dressing rooms, a world where wearing the same beige bra 5 out of 7 days in a row isn’t uncommon and a world where my nursing boob veins look like a map of Texas on my chest. There are no perfectly pruned petunias in the real world. My flowers are under-watered and my lemon zester has been lost in the utensil drawer for years. 


Motherhood is like waking up and finding yourself in a mental institution.  You’re surrounded by other crazy people (only, they’re smaller, louder and smell worse than you do).  You know that you deserve to be there, but cannot recall what it was, exactly, that was pinpointed as the tipping point.  And… you’re pretty sure you don’t want to leave.


My slow decent into insanity started, I noticed, when I began making little “deals” in my head. “If I make this light, my meeting will go well”. Or my favorite, “If I can get out of the bathroom before the toilet finishes flushing then I get a wish”! I started to place my fate in the hands of someone else. I was not responsible for how poorly the meeting went- after all, I did not make that light!


2 thoughts on “The Bell Jar

  1. there are so many wonderfully crafted thoughts in this installment that i can’t pick a favorite. i love each of them separately and adore them as a collection. you could easily expand each paragraph into its own blog entry. they each have that much merit. i’m going to pick an item from each section for comment and i know in advance that i won’t do you justice.

    1. had the same thoughts as you in contrasting myself with other fathers… except in reverse. i would look at how another father was handling a situation and think, “thank God i’ll never have to handle that.”

    2. i understand incompletely your thought on wearing clothes (or undergarments) for several days in a row…. except in reverse. the Navy taught me to never wear anything two days in a row. as a matter of fact, the Navy taught me to never wear new clothes before i washed them…. and never to continue wearing the same outfit after you’ve participated in some activity. i guess i just never learned to tolerate clamminess.

    3. each day i too wake up in an insane asylum and can readily identify with your lament…. except in reverse. i like the asylum but probably because i’m the mayor. the other inmates look at me with distrust, exasperation, dread and a fear that i’ll bring them into the conversation. it’s good to be mayor.

    4. i make the same deals you do….. but in reverse. i look at all manner of things and provide incentive if i’m witness to a particular outcome. “if i can see three planes in the air at one time on a hike, i…. if i can hit three dozen ceiling shots in a row on the racquetball court, i…. if i can get all 4 socks on my feet, slip into my running shoes and get them laced up before the commercial ends, i…. or if finish an entire 64 ounce bottle of Smart Water on one breath i…. i…. i won’t go to Hell.” there is no win with my motivational deals, just the off chance at not loosing.

    with this kind of example beaconing the way during your formative years, i’m continually stunned that you grew up to be perfect.


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