A Middle Aged Woman Laughs at Her Life’s Themes
By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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Dear Mom,

Your Tupperware collection has gotten out of control. I was almost late for work today because I couldn’t find a lid that fit any of your stupid bowls.

Please do not add this to the list of things I don’t want when I move out, i.e. holiday decorations, heirlooms, etc.

I will put it on Ebay.


Most famous writers have themes which they revisit in their writing and which become focal points in their work. Often these themes are drawn from life experiences and tend to address deep spiritual or intellectual matters, giving heft to the writing and establishing the author as a powerful voice on weighty matters.

Universities devote entire semesters to the study of such writers and their work. Students thoughtfully examine an author’s production to discern the subtle, recurring ideas which lend the work its heft and accord it the influence it deserves.

My daughter has revealed three of my recurring themes in the note left on my kitchen table this morning: Tupperware, missing household items and saving stuff for my kids that they want no part of.

Somehow I don’t think the Pulitzer Committee will be calling any time soon.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing wrong. I follow the “write what you know” mantra. For as long as I can remember, I have hoarded Tupperware as though I’m personally responsible for storing all food items left edible in case of a nuclear event. (Full disclosure: It’s not exactly Tupperware, but rather used generic dairy whip bins, deli and ice cream containers.) Presumably genetic in nature, I’ve followed in my mother’s footsteps, in awe of containers she has in her pantry dating from 1962.

That said, which lid fits which container is frequently a mystery, hence the theme of the never ending search for missing items. Add to that list the usual—keys, shoes, cell phone, as well as more mysterious disappearances, such as my eyebrow tweezers, the half gallon of milk I swore was in the fridge—and you have the makings of a never ending scavenger hunt. Sounds like the stuff of epics, no?

Finally, my garage, attic, closets and any other available spaces are chock full of the aforementioned heirlooms I intend to bequeath to my children. Each item tells a story of its significance to me, and apparently, to me alone, as my kids have made it abundantly clear that the boxes of Christmas decorations, knick-knacks, childhood toys and photos hold absolutely zero appeal. While I attempt to preserve a legacy, the kids have the nerve to try and preserve their sanity by leaving the emotional and physical baggage of my lovingly preserved junk with me.

So while other writers pen thoughts of life, death, love, spirituality and the like, I scribble rants about containers, lost socks and light-up Christmas houses no one wants.

Maybe it’s not much fodder for the next Great American Novel, but how many of us live epic lives, anyway? That said, perhaps it is time to expand my horizons. If I want to be Pulitzer worthy, I’ll have to amp up the excitement factor a little. And I will, right after I find the lid to this container I’m using to store some of Laura’s baby pictures.

Some day, she’ll thank me.

What are some your life’s “themes?” Click “comments” below, in red, and share!